Sign In

Children’s Hospital add fourth therapy dog

April 2, 2020

Norton Children’s Hospital is getting another therapy dog.

Thanks to a $50,000 gift from PetSmart Charities, Norton Healthcare will add a fourth four-legged therapist to help young patients

Norton said research has shown that full-time facility therapy dogs provide emotional comfort to patients and help their physical recovery by encouraging them to get out of bed and walk or play.

“Facility therapy dogs not only offer comfort but provide children with an outlet to verbalize their fears,” said Heather Stohr, the hospital’s manager of child life therapy.

She also said that the hospital’s current K-9 crew is not nearly big enough.

“We currently have around 400 requests for therapy dog visits every month, yet our current three dogs can only see around 100 children a month,” Stohr said.

Norton said the dogs also are helping kids overcome their fear of dogs, and they’re also making workdays a little easier for hospital staff.

“The caregivers unfortunately have to deal with a lot of situations that are sad and even scary,” Stohr said. “A few minutes with a dog can help relieve stress or anxiety.”

Kelly Balthazor, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities, said, “Children and pets often share a special bond, and we’re happy to lend our support to this program that promotes the healing power of pets and provides a healthy diversion from the usual hospital routine.”

Norton Children’s Hospital is the area’s only full-service, free-standing pediatric hospital. It has 300 beds, is Louisville’s only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and serves as the primary teaching facility of the University of Louisville School of Medicine. It cares for children “without regard to their families’ ability to pay,” Norton said.

Norton said the therapy dog program was established through a generous gift from the Independent Pilots Association Foundation and has since received support from other organizations, businesses and schools.

In total, Norton Healthcare’s Heel, Dog, Heal team consists of eight therapy dogs.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more