The Magic of Pet Therapy


April 30, 2018
Topics: Donors, Riley Kid Story, About Us, Child Life



kim z image
Kim Ziegler with Riley kid Piper Lyon and "Quigley"

The human-animal bond is amazing. You can’t deny it when you see how kids just flock to our dogs in the Pet Therapy program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

A lot of these families are here for a long time and in some cases they’re missing their animals at home. Being able to bring a pet into a patient’s room while they’re going through such a stressful time can really provide the whole family comfort and ease anxiety. Our therapy dogs brighten up a room.

When Riley Children’s Foundation invited PetSmart Charities to come in and see our Pet Therapy sessions, they were really impressed. They provided us with a three-year grant so that I can work full-time to grow and improve the program in several ways.

First, this grant means we’ll be able to recruit more dogs. Right now, we have 12 dogs. The more dogs we have, the more visits we can make to more units at Riley. I’d like to see visits increase to once a week or even once a day.

The grant will also allow me, as a Child Life Specialist, to assess how patients are coping during their hospitalization and provide services as needed. It will help improve the quality of visits and quality of care for patients.

Our dogs seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to finding that child who might need a little extra love. The visits with the dogs are such a great motivation for the kids. When children are going through a lot, it’s great to see them smile.

I am so grateful and excited to expand the Pet Therapy program to what I know it can be. Because of this generous gift, Riley’s fleet of four-legged friends can bring even more smiles to kids.


Kim Ziegler

Kim Ziegler is a Certified Child Life Specialist and the Riley Pet Therapy Coordinator.


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