Pets are allowed to visit their seriously ill humans in Juravinski hospital, in Ontario, Canada. The hospital adopted a program “Zachary’s Paws for Healing”, created by Donna Jenkins. Mrs. Jenkins was inspired by Zachary, her 25-year-old nephew, who showed an improvement after having his dogs around him while he was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Mrs. Jenkins told that while Zachary was in the hospital for many weeks and very sick after having a stem cell transplant, he begged to see his dog, Chase. She told that that they have sneaked Chase into ICU to see him and the effect, it had on Zachary, was amazing. When Zachary realized he was not going to survive his disease, he made her promise to start the organization. They had their official first patient visit September 15, 2015.
The hospital’s Oncology Unit Director noted that the hospital staff agreed to the scheme knowing that people have tried to sneak in pets in the past. If this is something really important to patients, then how can they make it happen safely? The pets are cleaned before they enter the hospital, and they are not in the same room with other patients. The visits last usually one hour and they come once a week. It is a great idea, because it takes their mind off the hospital and becomes sick for a bit.
Donna Jenkins also said that when patients get to see their animal, it can improve vital signs, fight depression and the feeling of isolation. The patient also gets a motive to be well and return home.
Their pet comes and loves them unconditionally, no matter whether they have lost hair or have tubes sticking out everywhere. When they get to see their pet, this can increase vital symptoms, happiness and forget about the experience of isolation.
It is always very touching moment to see how much they miss one another after not seeing each other for a while. Pets love their guardians and love is a very powerful healing force. It opens conversation again up and it is a reminder for the patient to get well and return home. Their pets are relieved to see them, knowing that they have not lost their human companion.
We wish more hospitals would be open within this program.