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‘Pets’ for patients

Battery-operated companion dog and cat (photo by Richard Whelsky) Battery-operated companion dog and cat (photo by Richard Whelsky)

Upstate has a dozen animatronic pet puppies and kittens available to help older patients who are hospitalized with dementia, loneliness or depression related to a prolonged hospitalization. Donations from the Upstate Foundation’s “Friend in Deed” fund made this program possible.

The Joy for All Companion Pets are gifts for selected patients to use in the hospital and take home with them, explains Assistant Director of Nursing Kelly Dolan. They are not shared among patients because of infection control concerns.

The pets have built-in sensors that respond to motion and touch, and a heartbeat that patients can feel. With a lifelike coat, authentic sounds and the ability to respond to the patient’s voice, the dog and cat are meant to provide comfort. They operate on alkaline batteries.

The manufacturer sells the yellow Lab puppy for $120 and cats for $100, with your choice of an orange tabby, tuxedo or silver with white mitts.

To donate to the Friend in Deed fund, contact the Upstate Foundation at 315-464-4416 or upstatefoundation.org

Upstate Health magazine summer 2019 issue coverThis article appears in the summer 2019 issue of Upstate Health magazine.