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Flexjet-University Hospital Partnership Transports Therapy Dogs

Highly-Trained Dogs Comfort Child and Adult Patients Alike

Flexjet, Inc., the fractional aircraft ownership and leasing concern, is expanding its longstanding relationship with University Hospitals (UH), an Ohio-based network of twenty-hospitals and over two-hundred physicians, by supporting Pet Pals, a pet therapy program that utilizes trained volunteers and their adult dogs to make short, in-room visits to adult and child patients predisposed to the company of a furry friend.

Flexjet recently transported a team of dogs and their handlers from a 14-month training program at Atlanta’s Canine Assistants to long-term assignments at UH Cleveland Medical Center, where they will comfort patients undergoing stressful medical treatments.

Across the United States, only 150 highly-trained facility dogs are currently working in hospitals. Flexjet’s assistance has helped UH add two Golden Retrievers—Loki, a one-year-old male and Natasha, a one-year-old female—to its roster of therapy animals. The hospital will now offer four facility dogs at various locations throughout its main campus. The dogs live with hospital staff, often a doctor or a nurse, and work a forty-hour work week alongside their human stewards.

Typically, hospital therapy dogs are of the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, or Goldendoodle breeds. The animals work extensively (but not exclusively) in pediatric hematology/oncology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and the Breen Breast Health Facility at UH Seidman Cancer Center.

Loki, who will work in Volunteer Services, and Natasha who will be in the UH Rainbow pediatric intensive care unit and their handlers arrived at Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF) east of downtown Cleveland onboard a Flexjet Praetor 500, and were warmly greeted by their new families before being taken to their new homes.

Flexjet Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Silvestro remarked: “We consider it an honor to fly these Pet Pals and their handlers to their new homes here in Cleveland, Ohio, while also expanding our partnership with University Hospitals. Our aircraft owners frequently fly with their pets and consider them members of their families, so we know just what to do to keep our canine and feline guests as comfortable and cared for as possible. I see it firsthand every time I travel with our dogs.”

Pet Pals is a non-profit organization reliant on donations to cover the costs of the dogs, their food, veterinary care, training, transportation, etc. Principal among the donors who helped bring Loki and Natasha to Cleveland was PetSmart Charities.

Pet therapy has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood-pressure, lift spirits, and otherwise promote healing in both children and adults. Close interaction with animals imparts feelings of joy for which science has yet to account, but with which every human heart is innately and gratefully familiar.

UH Pet Pals Program Coordinator Diane Pekarek asserts: “When a patient comes to the hospital, it’s at a time of intense stress and worry. However, when patients see a facility dog or pet therapy animal, their faces, and their demeanors change. Their cares ease. No matter how sick patients are, they always want a pet pal to visit them.”

Loki and Natasha will join Melena, a female Golden Retriever who works in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; and Blue, a male Golden/Lab Doodle assigned to assist hospital employees.

Entering the fractional jet ownership market in 1995, Flexjet has since distinguished itself by becoming the first and only air-carrier to be honored with 23 FAA Diamond Awards for Excellence. The company upholds an ARG/US Platinum Safety Rating, a 4AIR Bronze Sustainable Rating, and is IS-BAO compliant at Level 2. Flexjet’s operational acumen is further evinced by its uniquely forward-thinking practice of dedicating flight crews to a single aircraft, thereby maximizing crew knowledge of and familiarity with the machine in which they ply their noble trade.

In 2020, to better serve the health-related needs and concerns of its globetrotting clientele, Flexjet entered into a partnership with University Hospitals’ Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine.

FMI: www.flexjet.com


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