Healing Paws Dog Visitation Program Lets Long-Term Children's Hospital Patients See Their Pets (VIDEO)

A children's hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., has opened its doors to the pets of its long-term patients.

Healing Paws is a new dog visitation program at Wolfson Children's Hospital, USA Today reports. It aims to make life a little bit better for its pediatric patients.

"It's hard to be in a hospital, especially when you're suffering from a major illness," hospital president Michael Aubin told the paper. "We can fill that gap in children's lives and help them recover by bringing one of their family members -- their dogs -- to them."

The program is the first of its kind in a children's hospital in the United States, according to

Before this, 13 other hospitals nationwide had formalized pet visitation policies, according to NBC Chicago. But Healing Paws is the first approved for a children's hospital.

In its two-month existence, it's already made an impact -- as made apparent by Vanessa Blond, a 17-year-old with cystic fibrosis. Blond had not seen her dog, Ginger, for three weeks before the program reunited them.

"It's boring and it's lonely," Blond told News4Jack. "To be able to see your dog and for him to come and give you kisses and cuddle with you, I think it's great and comforting."

Vanessa Blond reunites with her dog, Ginger.



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