Therapy dogs bring back joy to Tucson Medical Center staff

COVID-19 halted therapy visits in March

TMC pet therapy

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Therapy dogs are walking the halls of Tucson Medical Center once again after COVID-19 halted visits back in March. Fourteen therapy dogs returned this week to visit hospital staff.

“Its been so long since we’ve been back,” said Sandie Kirchner, therapy dog April’s owner. “When I got her vest out, she just went ballistic.”

One glimpse at a therapy vest and the dogs knew they would visit the hospital once again.

“The minute we put the vest on she was all excited and ready to go,” said Ken Johnson, therapy dog Shadow’s owner.

“Bandit looked at it and started jumping up and down,” said James Ogden, therapy dog Bandit’s owner. “Eyes started jumping up and down.”

Each dog’s presence at the hospital was missed.

“They pet him and give him love and he gives love right back,” Ogden said. “It’s just a great thing.”

A great thing especially for healthcare workers who have been facing some of the most challenging months of their careers.

“We were just happy to be able to come back and see the staff and people that we love especially all they’ve been through and everything they’ve done,” Ogden said.

The dog’s are boosting the morale of hospital staff at TMC.

“I just put a dog down so it’s like now I’ve got dogs I can pet and I don’t have to worry about taking care of them,” said Lisa Marine, a nurse at TMC.

Whether they’re a lap dog or the size of a pony, these animals are making a difference one person at a time.

“The good that they do with the patients,” Johnson said. “I could give you case after case that just seem like miracles because the dog goes in.”

TMC is taking precautions as it welcomes the therapy dogs back into the hospital. For now, the animals will only visit with the staff. Patient visits are on hold for now due to COVID-19.

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