The Mutt-i-grees team collaborated with the NYC Mayor’s Office for a visit to Vanderbilt Hospital in Staten Island to show the staff and patients how animals can help us heal. When the team arrived at Vanderbilt Hospital in Staten Island, bringing 3 adorable pups along, it was no surprise that they were met with smiles. From patients in the waiting room, to the staff behind the counter, to the nurses and doctors, everyone was excited to see some furry friends.

The feel-good moment when we see a dog is nothing new, but we look to take it a step further. We look to understand the rescue animals’ journey to teach us things like empathy, resiliency, team work, and trust. The staff and patients were equally pleased spending time with the pups as they held, played, and took pictures with them. Associate director, Sue Lee, finds that animals help bring people together. She says she finds that they help people feel empathetic and allows them to care for someone other than themselves.

Speaking with health professionals, we gained insight into the impact animals can have on children at a young age. They reinforced how it is good for the child’s development; teaching them that there is something more to care about than themselves, teaching them responsibility. Early exposure can actually help decrease the chance of allergies.

We also discussed with the medical team how animals can help to treat anxiety and depression. People tend to open up more around animals and can feel less judged. This will help them express how they feel and be more transparent.

We are grateful to have partnered with the NYC Mayor’s Office to help with their week of Animal Assisted Activities Initiative in Staten Island. We look forward to continuing this partnership reaching more communities while helping people and raising awareness of shelter pets.