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‘Canines for Coping’ expands to Madison Hospital

HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville Hospital Foundation and the Huntsville Hospital Health System are expanding their “Canines for Coping” facility dog program to Madison Hospital.

The donor-funded program operates at Huntsville Hospital and Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children with three professionally trained facility dogs – Asteroid, Orbit and Shaggy.

“We have tracked incredibly positive outcomes since Canines for Coping started serving patients, and we are so excited to start offering this incredible program for the city of Madison,” said Stefani Williams, Canines for Coping coordinator for Huntsville Hospital. “The new dog will be a full-time employee, working with its handler to meet the needs of both pediatric and adult patients.

“We especially anticipate this dog being a great service for youth who are seeking care for mental health needs and our adult patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

Canines for Coping helps patients and their families and caregivers, cope with their hospital experience. The program helps patients heal faster, decreases anxiety and blood pressure, and enhances the mood surrounding the patient. Canines for Coping has garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback since its launching in 2019.

Madison’s dog, secured through Service Dogs Alabama, is scheduled to arrive in the spring following extensive training. The Madison program is made possible by Sheryl and Pat Thomason, who unexpectedly lost their son Patrick this year.

Mary Lynne Wright, president of Madison Hospital, said adding a facility dog to the hospital team is a huge benefit for everyone who walks through their hospital doors.

“This dog will not only bring joy and comfort to our patients, but also to our health care heroes,” Wright said. “I am extremely thankful to the Foundation and the generous donors who are funding this program for our hospital and community.”

The Thomasons said Patrick loved dogs and they chose the Canines for Coping program as a special project to memorialize him. They hope the dog’s comfort will help many others recover or deal with their sickness in a more positive way.

“After looking into many different charitable organizations, when the opportunity to provide the dog for the Madison Hospital and knowing Patrick’s love of dogs, this was an easy decision for us,” said Pat Thomason. “Just knowing how a facility dog can brighten the day and bring joy for everybody it comes into contact with is a very exciting opportunity.

“We know Patrick would love this and would support this 100 percent.”

The Madison City Council approved appropriations for the program and Window World of Huntsville is founding sponsor of the Canines for Coping program.

To donate to the program or to sponsor a program launch, click here.

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