Pet Assisted Therapy Services (PATS)

The best form of medical care does not always require a prescription or a procedure. A visit from a furry friend can go a long way while in a hospital or medical setting. There is growing evidence and research that proves medical benefits from pet assisted therapy. These benefits include lowering and/or stabilizing blood pressure, reducing pain and anxiety, motivating physical activity, and encouraging communication. 

Packard Paws Facility Dog program

Our fluffy Packard Paws’ facility dog teams bring comfort and healing to patients and their families during inpatient, outpatient, and clinic admissions.

Our Packard Paws’ facility dogs have completed extensive formal training to be used to enhance the quality of education and services for patients and families at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Our facility dogs are handled by trained staff to encourage goal-oriented interventions with their patients and families of their assigned work areas. Our facility dogs help normalize the hospital or clinic environment, help motivate to meet healthcare goals, and reduce stress and anxiety during hospital admissions, procedures and clinic visits.

Packard Paws is made possible completely by the generous contributions from our community members. With their continuous support, they help make it possible for each of our facility dogs to make about 50 visits per month, totaling more than 1,800 visits each year.

Support Packard Paws

Meet our dogs

Echo, Packard Paws Program at Stanford Children's


Handler: Alyssa Giacalone, PA-C & Geovanna Suarz, PA-C

Service/Unit: Cardiovascular Surgery Team/PCU 200, CVICU 220, & Heart Center

Start Date: January 2018

Sonya, Packard Paws Program at Stanford Children's


Handler: Rashimi Bhandari, PhD

Service/Unit: Pediatric Pain Psychological Services

Start Date: March 2018

Donatella, Packard Paws Program at Stanford Children's


Handler: Molly Marchand, CCLS

Service/Unit: Child Life/Perioperative Surgical Center

Start Date: May 2018

Ireland, Packard Paws Program at Stanford Children's


Handler: Nicole Stutzman, MS, CCLS

Service/Unit: Child Life/Specialty Clinics San Francisco

Start Date: April 2021

Margene, Packard Paws Program at Stanford Children's


Handler: Samantha Johnson, CCLS

Service/Unit: Child Life/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit 420/Patient Care Unit 400/Cystic Fibrosis

Start Date: January 2022

Volunteer Pet Therapy Program

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford partners with local pet therapy programs to have well behaved pet dogs accompanied by their human handlers to bring cheer and joy to patients in our hospital on a volunteer basis through our volunteer services program. Pet therapy visits can occur in patient rooms and in our common areas with the focus of more social, therapeutic visits for those who are having a rough day, missing their animals at home, or just wanting to see a dog to brighten up their day.

Our pet therapy volunteer handlers and dogs must be screened and approved by partnered local pet therapy organizations, as well as clearance from the volunteer services department in order to be eligible.