UW Health Kids searching for dogs to visit young patients

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MADISON, Wis. — Do you have a well-behaved dog that does well around children? UW Health Kids wants your help.

The hospital asked dog owners on Monday to apply for their new Caring Canines program. The program lets volunteers and their dogs visit children in the hospital and brighten their day.

“We need the community’s help to get it off the ground,” child life education specialist Katie Glass said. “This program will allow us to expand our efforts to help patients and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of their time in the hospital.”

Caring Canines is replacing UW Health’s Pet Pals program, which ended during the pandemic. With Pet Pals, dogs made visits twice a week in a group setting. The goal of the new program is to have dogs make daily visits to patients’ rooms.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and commit to at least one year of service, bringing their dog at least twice a month. Participating dogs must be able to:

  • Sit and lie down with only one command.
  • Stay until you call him or her with only one command.
  • Walk loosely on a leash and not pull, even when excited.
  • Be friendly with other dogs.
  • Be able to perform commands without treats as a reward.
  • Not bark or whine too much.
  • Be up to date on all vaccinations, including rabies.

Volunteer teams will complete a four-step application process, including temperament testing, prior to being accepted into the program. You can find more information and apply by clicking here.