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Orlando Health is teaming up with PetSmart to help fund the hospital system’s pet therapy program, ensuring thousands of patients access to these canine comfort teams. PetSmart Paws for Hope at Orlando Health will kick off today at Orlando Health’s seven hospitals throughout Central Florida. Funding from PetSmart will sponsor the 36 pet therapy teams currently in operation at Orlando Health.
“At PetSmart, we’re dedicated to supporting our customers, associates and communities,” said David Lenhardt, CEO of PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with Orlando Health on PetSmart Paws for Hope and look forward to helping more patients heal through the power of pets.”
“Our pet therapy teams play a very special role here at Orlando Health - the impact the volunteers and therapy dogs have when they walk into a patient’s room, or sit at the feet of a chemotherapy patient undergoing cancer treatment, is truly incredible,” said Mark Roh MD, President, UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health. “Pet therapy has proven to reduce a patient’s stress, calm fears and anxieties and aid in much quicker healing times. We thank PetSmart for its support and recognition of this vital program that comforts so many of our patients, guests and team members.”
This is the second national partnership of its kind between PetSmart and a hospital pet therapy program and will mark the first time Paws for Hope has worked with adult patients. PetSmart’s donation of $62,500 over the next four years will fund new pet therapy teams and pet therapy activities within Orlando Health’s hospitals. In addition, community events and outreach to local veterinary offices, dog clubs and dog shows will help recruit additional four-legged volunteers to the program.
Currently, Orlando Health pet therapy teams visit adult and pediatric patients at the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, South Seminole Hospital, and Health Central Hospital.