Which locations do the prescription pets visit?
Currently, prescription pets visit patients at our locations on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, our hospital in Colorado Springs and KidStreet in Denver.
We’d love to visit more locations, and more often! Please help us spread the word so we can recruit additional volunteers.
How can patients request a visit from a prescription pet?
Patients can request a dog visit by calling the volunteer office at 720-777-6887 and answering a few questions. Out of an abundance of caution for our patients’ health and safety, prescription pets are not allowed in certain areas of the hospital, including where patients are on isolation or in critical care. We will do our best to accommodate your request.
How are prescription pets different from medical dogs?
While prescription pets visit patients on a volunteer basis, medical dogs in our Medical Dog Program are full time team members. (Technically, these “MDs” are part of the Child Life Department, so you might think of them as canine child life specialists.) While prescription pets provide social visits for our patients, medical dogs partner with clinical team members to help a patient achieve a health-related goal.
No matter their official role, we’re grateful for these special pups and their masters who help kids and teens in our hospital every day.
How can my dog and I apply to become part of the Program?
Thank you for your interest in joining the Prescription Pet Program! For the health and safety of our patients and team members, all potential prescription pets and their owners must pass a rigorous application, screening and training process. To learn more, please review the requirements for becoming a prescription pet.
Even if your pup doesn’t meet the requirements, we’d love to have your support as a volunteer. Learn how to become a volunteer at Children’s Colorado.
How did the Prescription Pet Program begin?
In the late 1970s, the then Director of Volunteers Fern Bechtel witnessed the positive effects of pets on patients as her son recovered from extensive surgery. She teamed up with Drs. Jan Facinelli and Jim Houchens, Denver veterinarians, and Mary Jo Cleaveland, the head nurse in our oncology unit, to establish the first dog visitation protocols.
In 1984, the very first dog visited patients at Children's Colorado under close supervision of medical staff. The hospital required a written prescription from the child’s doctor in order to facilitate a visit. Thus began the Prescription Pet Program, a treasured social activity for kids of all ages at Children’s Colorado.
Since its origin, our Program has been honored with awards including the American Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence, the American Society of Directors of Volunteer Services Extraordinary Program Award and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association’s Service Award.
We thank the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, the veterinarians and each of the special people and their pups who have contributed to our Program throughout the years.
For additional questions about the Prescription Pet Program, please call the Association of Volunteers at 720-777-6887.