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Pet Therapy

Providing pediatric and adult patients with a fun and healthy diversion 

Erlanger's Pet Therapy Program is designed to bring a smile to our patients and families, and to make their hospital stays more cheerful. Since 1998 hospital-approved therapy dogs along with their owners have visited the children on inpatient floors of Children's Hospital as well as some of the outpatient clinics. And in 2014, our "K-9 ambassadors" also began visiting adult patients at Erlanger Baroness Hospital, including special visits to the ICU, ER, and infusion centers. These beloved animals can be a great anxiety-reliever during difficult hospital stays. Nothing is more moving than to see a sick patient light up when one of their furry friends rounds the corner. Dogs and their owners are invaluable members of our care team; increasing laughter and bringing joy to all our patients.

Benefits of Pet Therapy

  • Provides patients and loved ones with a healthy diversion from the usual hospital routine
  • Offers a fun opportunity for social interaction
  • Improves the patient’s mood
  • Often increases the patient’s level of activity and alertness which is key to the recovery process

Erlanger Health System partners with the Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT), a program of The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, who sponsors animal-assisted therapy programs for all ages.  In addition to Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, our Pet Therapy Program is also offered at Erlanger Baroness Hospital and Erlanger East Hospital. 

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Interested in Taking Part in Erlanger’s Pet Therapy Program?

All owners interested in Erlanger’s Pet Therapy Program are required to attend a HABIT Information Meeting in order to apply for the program and for their dog to receive a behavior evaluation. Attendance is a required step in the application process.

Dogs must:

  • Be at least one year of age
  • Have completed a six-month adjustment period in their new home
  • Have basic obedience skills  (sits, walks well on a leash, no inside barking, gets along with other dogs)
  • Love people
  • Have up-to-date shot records
  • Be well-groomed

After attending the informational session, owners will need to complete the application and send it in along with a $25 yearly fee and the dog will go through a screening process. After the dog passes this stage, they will become an official Erlanger K-9 Ambassador and can schedule visits at Erlanger Baroness Hospital, Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, and Erlanger East Hospital.

To register to attend a HABIT Informational Meeting, contact Ruth Sapp at 865-974-5633 or by email at [email protected].