ST. LOUIS – Some four-legged friends are supporting local patients and hospital employees during tough times.
On Thursday, Mr. Bennett, a 12-week-old English cream golden retriever, undergoes support animal training at SLU Hospital.
Kelly Baumer, vice president of specialty services at SSM Health SLU Hospital, said Mr. Bennett is the hospital’s new “chief snuggle officer.”
Mr. Bennett attended a puppy powwow with experienced support dog Sadie.
For the last 19 years, SLU Hospital has provided certified therapy dog visits to patients.
“So, I think it started because we have a pet therapy program and those are certified dogs brought in by handlers for patients as they’re going through the recovery process,” Baumer said. “But our employees are saying, ‘What about us?’ So, (Mr. Bennett) comes in for our employees.”
The hospital wants Mr. Bennett to become a regular fixture – not for the patients but the people who work here.
“It does so much good for people,” said Carol Moore, pet therapy program coordinator for SLU Hospital. “It just helps in a situation when things look pretty grim or depressing, a dog helps them forget about it. It’s a temporary elevation of their spirit, but it works.”