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University of Wisconsin–Madison
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The Wisconsin Idea in Action

Pet Pals Pet Therapy Program

The Pet Pals pet therapy program brings volunteer dogs and their owners to American Family Children's Hospital. The dogs provide emotional support for pediatric patients and their families through a twice-weekly visitation program. The program is unique -- rigorous health screenings ensure that the canine volunteers are safe, even for children who are immunocompromised because of organ transplants or chemotherapy.


Pet Pals dogs provide emotional support to patients and their families. Since the program began in 1996, Pet Pals dogs have visited over 12,000 pediatric patients. The efficacy of the program is documented in Children's Health Care, Fall 2002, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Play and Pets: The Physical and Emotional Impact of Child-Life and Pet Therapy on Hospitalized Children) by Mary Kaminski, Teresa Pellino and Joel Wish.

Focus Areas

Project Leader

Linda Sullivan
Curriculum Review Coordinator

Pathobiological Sciences
School or College
School of Veterinary Medicine

This project was last updated on Jan 29, 2015. Do you have an update for this project? Find out how to contribute.