Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is teaming up with PetSmart to help fund the hospital’s pet therapy program that will provide thousands of more patients with access to canine comfort teams. PetSmart Paws for Hope at Rady Children’s will kick off today. PetSmart will fund the program at a commitment of $250,000 over five years.

“At PetSmart, we believe in building partnerships that help people heal through the power of pets,” said David Lenhardt, president and chief executive officer of PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with Rady Children’s on PetSmart Paws for Hope and look forward to watching the life-changing program grow.”

Rady Children’s Canine Care Therapy Program now includes 33 volunteer dogs, which visit patients five days a week, resulting in more than 15,000 bedside visits per year. Support from PetSmart will allow the program to expand in the future and allow additional dogs to join the program. The program will expand to the following areas: Spiritual Care/Bereavement, Child Adolescent Psychiatry Program, Eating Disorder Clinic, Bernardy Center and Hospital employee and Patient Wellness programs.

“We are so grateful for the incredible generosity from PetSmart, which enables us to significantly enhance our Canine Therapy program,” said Steve Jennings, senior vice president and executive director of Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Many special programs rely on community support to operate, and with this donation Rady Children’s will be better-equipped to provide the excellence in patient care we are known for nationwide.”

This is the third national partnership of its kind between PetSmart and a hospital pet therapy program; existing programs include Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Orlando Health.

In 2012, PetSmart teamed up with Phoenix Children's Hospital to sponsor their first animal-assisted therapy program, PetSmart Paws Can Heal. The initial launch was such a success that PetSmart expanded the program to hospitals throughout the country with PetSmart Paws for Hope, with expansion to Orlando Health earlier this year. The program creates additional pet therapy teams in hospitals and allows for more daily visits from a therapy animal for each patient. Additionally, the program provides support for the patients and their families. PetSmart plans to expand this program into at least three new hospitals across the country every year, with St. Louis Children’s Hospital, SickKids Toronto, Canada and Children’s Medical Center, Dallas kicking off later this year.

About PetSmart

PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) is the largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets. The company employs approximately 53,000 associates and operates more than 1,340 pet stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, 200 in-store PetSmart® PetsHotel® dog and cat boarding facilities and is a leading online provider of pet supplies and pet care information ( http://www.petsmart.com). PetSmart provides a broad range of competitively priced pet food and pet products; and offers dog training, pet grooming, pet boarding, PetSmart Doggie Day Camp SM day care services and pet adoption services. Through its in-store pet adoption partnership with PetSmart Charities® and PetSmart Charities® of Canada, PetSmart has helped save the lives of more than 5.7 million pets since 1994. PetSmart Charities, Inc. and PetSmart Charities of Canada (collectively “PetSmart Charities”) are independent, nonprofit organizations that save the lives of homeless pets and reduce shelter intake through spay and neuter efforts. In 2013, nearly 440,000 dogs and cats found homes through PetSmart Charities’ adoption centers in all PetSmart stores and by sponsoring community adoption events. PetSmart Charities is the leader in granting money to help pets in need, with more than $34 million given in 2013 throughout North America.

About Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego

Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego is a 520-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all 10 pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. For more information, visit www.rchsd.org.

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