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Pets for Patients

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Not all healers at doctor's offices have two legs. Some local physicians are now putting their own dogs to work in their private practices to offer a happy distraction to patients. 7s Robbin Simmons has the story in tonight's special report, Pets for Patients.

WSVN -- It's not always easy to get a child to the doctor's office, especially if shots are involved.

Jasmine, Five-Years-Old: "I only like when I don't get shots. Only when I get checkups."

But most kids are actually excited to visit Dr. Warren Day's office because they know they'll get to see his partner Penny.

Dr. Day started bringing the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel to his Coral Springs office several years ago.

Dr. Warren Day: "We thought it would make the office less intimidating for the kids, and make it a more mellow place."

Penny is a certified therapy dog, but unlike the dogs that visit hospitals or nursing homes, Penny works full days, which allows her to form strong bonds with the little patients.

Dr. Warren Day: "Penny is a big deal in the office every day. When she's not here, the kids are very upset.

Penny greets the children as they head into the exam rooms and is always ready for some petting or a game of ball. She's there for the tough stuff too.

Dr. Warren Day: "She'll comfort them, if they're getting shots, she'll sit on the table with them. If they cry, she'll sit and lick the tears from their eyes."

Five-year-old Olivia has brittle bone disease and her fragile bones make her a regular at the doctor's office.

Michele Burka, Olivia's mom: "She has just fractured for the 38th time."

Thanks to Penny, Mom never has any trouble getting Olivia into the office.

Michele Burka, Olivia's mom: "Having a pet in the office, and the same pet every time, has a huge impact and less stress."

Olivia, Five-years-old: "Sometimes she licks me on the leg."

And when Olivia got her finger pricked for blood work, having Penny by her side made it all better.

Olivia, Five-years-old: "She calmed me down. Don't be afraid to get your shot because penny is here to protect you."

Dr. Catherine Kirchner, an internist in Bay harbor Islands, knows that us big kids can benefit from some puppy love too.

Dr. Catherine Kirchner: "I have an older population. They're sicker and they come in a lot more frequently."

Dr. Kirchners's Eskapoo JoJo is training to be a therapy dog.

Dr. Catherine Kirchner: "Jojo is on staff, and she is on call. When she gets home she is so tired."

While JoJo isn't allowed in the exam rooms, she meets patients at the scale or waits for them outside the door.

Dr. Catherine Kirchner: "When you look at her you can't be upset. She's not jumping all over them, she's not barking. She kinda walks up to them and lets them pet her, if they don't pet her, she just walks away."

Roz Smith recently went through a double mastectomy and has always dreaded going to the doctor.

Roz Smith: "Before JoJo came, I would be nervous and my blood pressure would shoot up."

But with JoJo there...

Roz Smith: "If she starts out with me, before I go in to get my blood pressure taken, it's normal. Somehow she relaxes my system so much."

Hallie Hendler is at Dr. Kirchner's office every four weeks for blood work. She trades Cheerios for some love from JoJo.

Hallie Hendler: "I've been sick for a long time now, but I look forward to coming in and opening the door and seeing her fuzzy little face."

If patients have allergies or just don't want to be around the dogs, both Jo Jo and Penny have places to hide out. But for the most part, patients say these dogs are the best medicine.

Doris Frantz: "When I come out of the examining room, after being prodded and poked and jabbed, and I see JoJo, everything goes away."

JoJo has her own Facebook page so patients can follow her, and Penny has her own website.

FOR MORE INFO:

Dr. Catherine Kirchner

1048 Kane Concourse

Bay Harbor Isles, FL 33154

(305) 865-8775

----------------------------

Northwest Broward Pediatrics

Dr. Warren Day

8150 Royal Palm Blvd #105, Coral Springs, FL 33065

(954) 753-2810

www.pediatrictherapydog.com

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