Special Pets Offer Healing and Comfort to Our Amazing Kids

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Dogs like Kodi and Noah regularly visit our patients at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, and these special guests are met with smiles, love and, of course, lots of hugs.

Kodi and Noah

Pet therapy programs, like Tiger Human Animal Therapy Service (Tiger HATS) use pets to aid in physical recovery and healing by offering comfort and spiritual healing. It not only improves patients’ moods, but the therapy actually helps patients who are in physical pain.

Noah and patient

“I’ve seen a patient go from 10 out of 10 on the pain scale to smiling and cuddling with a golden retriever in her hospital bed,” said Maddie Dumas, a Child Life Specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “Pet therapy offers a unique opportunity for patients to forget about the hospital for a little bit. These special dogs offer comfort in a way no one expects to find inside a hospital.”

Kodi with patient

Patients are not the only ones who look forward to these visits. Our doctors and staff do as well because of the effect they have on our patients.

“Pet therapy can be really helpful for our patients, particularly ones who are in the hospital for a long time,” said Dr. James Wood, a pediatric surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “It gives them some sense of normalcy and the outside world.”

Kodi with Dr. Wood

Patients who may be guarded suddenly open up conversation about their pets at home and, subsequently, let the medical team into their worlds. The dogs seem to make them feel more comfortable, safe and happy.

These furry visitors make a big difference to our amazing kids, and the dogs’ handlers have noticed how much the program means to our patients.

Noah with patient

“I really believe in pet therapy,” said Diane Sylvester, Director of Tiger HATS. “I’ve seen such a big change in some of the patients when we walk into their rooms, and I really enjoy meeting them and making them happy with what makes me happy — my animals.”


About Tiger HATS

The Tiger Human Animal Therapy Service (Tiger HATS) is a community organization sponsored by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. It is composed of volunteers from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and interested persons from the Baton Rouge community. Tiger HATS has around 80 members, along with their dogs, who offer pet therapy in the Baton Rouge area. Each of the members takes a class to become a certified handler, and all of the dogs are evaluated to determine if they have the temperament required.

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