Pet therapy-certified volunteer teams play a key role at Hartford Hospital by creating a sense of security, well-being, and belonging ideal for patient care and recovery.

“Through their interactions with patients and colleagues, pet therapy teams have proven to boost patient morale and participation, decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and strengthen communication between patients and their providers,” shares Eileen Pelletier, CAVS, Director of Volunteer Services at Hartford Hospital.

Sloan Sheridan-Thomas was so grateful for the program’s impact on her sister’s healing, that she made a generous gift in support of the Rory Holt Fund for Pet Therapy—which was established by a Hartford Hospital pet therapy volunteer to collect donations on behalf of the program.

“My sister was in the hospital and not doing well,” shared Sheridan-Thomas. “Then one day they brought a dog into her room and that was a huge turning point. The therapy dogs began visiting her more frequently and they gave her something to look forward to—she looked forward to living again.”

As a retired school teacher and principal, Sheridan-Thomas would tell students that success always starts with your attitude—and that credo applied to her sister’s healing as well.

“Attitude colors everything,” says Sheridan-Thomas. “If you want to do something, you can do it—but it depends on your attitude. These therapy dogs help patients believe they can get better.

“We had the idea of developing pet therapy trading cards with pictures and details about our canine volunteers, as well as information on how to support the program,” shares Pelletier. “Sloan loved the idea of patients having a nice reminder of their furry friends by their bedside or after they are discharged—and she generously invested in this initiative.”

“If people are looking to make a difference, supporting the Pet Therapy Program is a surefire way to do it,” Sheridan-Thomas adds. “I would encourage anyone to make a gift to Hartford Hospital Volunteer Services and the Rory Holt Fund for Pet Therapy.”

“We are so grateful to Sloan for her generous gift and to our Volunteer Services colleagues for overseeing this inspiring program,” shared Lynn B. Rossini, Vice president of Philanthropy, Hartford Hospital. “Most importantly, we are appreciative of the many pet therapy teams who provided over 56,000 hours of volunteer service to our patients and staff. That is a lot of smiles.”

If you would like to make a gift to the Rory Holt Fund for Pet Therapy or want to learn more about becoming a pet therapy volunteer at Hartford Hospital, please click here.