Pet therapy is a beneficial tool that provides patients and their families with a sense of normalcy despite the unfamiliar hospital setting.

Benefits of Pet Therapy

  • Brings smiles
  • Provides comfort
  • Relieves stress
  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Lessens depression and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure, respiration and heart rate
  • Encourages better communication
  • Offers positive distraction
  • Provides entertainment

Pet Therapy Facts

  • Medical Center Pet Therapy policy was implemented in 2005
  • Medical Center Pet Therapy dogs can be identified by their Penn State Hershey ID badges
  • All Medical Center therapy dogs are registered through one of the following therapy dog organizations:  Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS), Caring Hearts (formerly American Red Cross Serving Central PA) or Pet Partners
  • All teams are volunteers, and all dogs are owned, loved, and trained by that volunteer
  • Visits occur in most inpatient adult units
  • Visits also occur at Cardiac Rehabilitation, Adult and Pediatric Eating Disorder clinics, Cancer Institute, Infusion Therapy and Dialysis
  • Visits occur every day of the week in different areas of the hospital and clinics
  • Special visits can be arranged by making a request at the nurse's station.
  • Therapy dogs cannot visit patients who are under isolation restrictions
  • Penn State Health Children's Hospital has a separate pet therapy program

If you are interested in pursuing participation in our Pet Therapy Program, the first step is to have your dog registered with one of the following therapy dog organizations:

  • Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD)
  • Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS)
  • Caring Hearts
  • Pet Partners

In addition, prospective teams should have completed 20 hours of documented therapy visits prior to applying for our Pet Therapy Program.

Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's Pet Therapy Program is a popular volunteer opportunity and positions for new dog/handler teams are not always available. Please contact Jeanne Beckley, Pet Therapy Program Co-Coordinator to check if openings are available.

Gifts to the Pet Therapy Program

Gifts to our program may be directed to:

Office of University Development
P.O. Box 852, M.C. A120
Hershey, PA 17033-0852

Checks should be made payable to Penn State University with Pet Therapy Fund noted in the memo line. To make a gift via credit card, please call 717-531-8497.

Pet therapy dog lays in front of a helicopter
Pet Therapy at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.