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The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) has been providing care for Victoria’s Children and their families for over 140 years.  They’re the major specialist paediatric hospital in Victoria with their care extending to Children from Tasmania, southern NSW and other states around Australia, including overseas. They’re also one the most coveted locations for Pet Therapy volunteers to visit, with over 50 volunteers and their dogs already registered as visitors and a steady stream of new applicants.

The Patient & Family Communications Coordinator, Brenda Kittelty, oversees the Pet Therapy visiting volunteers at The RCH and has taken time out to chat about the animals in her life and the impact of Pet Therapy on the patients at RCH.

Brenda, an animal lover herself, has two gorgeous dogs in her family, “Zippy is a 5-year-old miniature schnauzer and Flossie is a 6-year-old miniature Poodle. We’ve had Zippy since he was a puppy but Flossie has only recently joined our family after being rescued from a puppy farm.”

Being such an animal lover herself, Brenda understands all too well the positive impact that visiting pet therapy dogs have at The RCH and she explains that, “Pet Therapy brings a smile to the faces of patients, their families and staff alike. It brings a little bit of ‘normal’ into what can often be a stressful and isolating experience – being an inpatient in hospital. It is especially valued by our young patients missing their own pets at home.”

When asked to share a memorable moment about Lort Smith’s Pet Therapy program Brenda struggles, “There are so many!” she exclaims. Everything from, “A child refusing to walk post surgery who happily led a dog along a ward [to] a fractious and over-tired toddler who finally fell asleep hugging a miniature schnauzer like a teddy [to] watching a timid and shy child blossom into smiles when patting a new furry friend.”

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