San Diego – July 29, 2014 – PetSmart has made a generous donation of $250,000 to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego to further enhance the canine therapy program at the Hospital. As a result of the donation, the program has been renamed the PetSmart Paws for Hope at Rady Children’s.
“At PetSmart, we believe in building partnerships that help people heal through the power of pets,” said David Lenhardt, president of 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.”
Currently, there are 33 canine volunteers participating in the program. The canines visit Hospital patients five days a week, resulting in more than 15,000 bedside visits per year. The gift will help expand the program and allow staff to test more dogs for the program in the future. The program will also expand to the following areas within Rady Children’s: 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.