Actress Kristen Renton, who has starred in the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives and the FX drama series Sons of Anarchy, recently helped to shine a spotlight on the achievements of dogs who act as emotional supper for those in need at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
The TV star was among the group that gathered at the hospital’s outdoor dining terrace on April 11th to celebrate the inaugural Dog Therapy Appreciation Day, which recognized The American Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program’s 365 consecutive day commitment to providing cheer for patients, their families, and hospital staff.
Attendees had the chance to meet 20 of the program’s tail-wagging participants, step into a photo booth with one of the kind-hearted canines for a souvenir snapshot, and collect therapy dog trading cards, while the four-legged honorees enjoyed special treats and went home with a Spot-themed swag bag.
Launched 15 years ago, today the American Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program has 117 volunteers and 107 therapy dogs who help to lighten the hospital stay of young patients like 13-year-old Erika Daniels.
“It was really hard to be in the hospital for five weeks,” said Erika, who recovered from brain surgery that resulted in partial paralysis and speech loss thanks in part to the dog therapy program. “When the dogs would come to my room, of course I wanted to pet them and play with them and in order to do that, I had to start moving. I got stronger and learned to walk again thanks to them. Someday I hope I can be a dog therapy volunteer with my dog Patches.”
An average of four of the dog therapy program’s pooches visit CHLA every day, and in the past year the dogs and their volunteers have spent one-on-one time with per 10,000 patients. Approximately half of the dogs in the program are rescues.
To find out more about the American Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program:
Photo Credit: CHLA