"His Ears Are so Soft!" VETPETS: An Animal-Assisted Activity/Visitation Program for Children and Families at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

  • Christina Bach University of Pennsylvania


Animal-assisted activity and therapy programs (AAA/Ts) are becoming more common in various physical and mental health settings and with a variety of populations. VETPETS is an animal-assisted activity program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Weekly volunteers from the school visit the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (RMH) with certified therapy dogs. By partnering with Penn Vet, RMH is able to bring a little piece of home to the families residing there by acknowledging the importance of the human-animal bond and its impact on human physical and mental health. In addition, VETPETS provides much needed diversion, recreation, and social support to families who are often facing a life threatening or life altering medical crisis. This narrative describes the history, mission, and goals of VETPETS as well as highlights the experiences of children benefiting from the program at RMH.

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