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Winthrop Hospital launches pet therapy program

The WAGS program, short for Winthrop's Animals Give

The WAGS program, short for Winthrop's Animals Give Support, will be offered in patient rooms soon. Credit: NYU Winthrop Hospital

NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola said Thursday it has launched a pet therapy program led by Schnoodles, a schnauzer-poodle mix, and Oliver, a miniature golden doodle.

The program featuring the two dogs, which will soon be available for patients upon request, is expected to operate twice weekly at launch, the hospital said in a news release. NYU Winthrop added, "The hope is that it will grow to include daily dog visits."

NYU Winthrop said the dogs are touring public areas, such as waiting rooms, including the surgical ICU waiting room where families are often anxiously waiting to hear the outcomes of procedures on loved ones.

The program, named WAGS, short for Winthrop’s Animals Give Support, will also be offered in patient rooms soon.

“At NYU Winthrop Hospital, we take a holistic view of our patient care, not just addressing the physical health of our patients, but their mental and spiritual needs as well,” said Jean Zebroski, director of volunteer services at the hospital. “Petting or hugging an adorable dog can be such a stress reliever, and so many of our patients have pets as well, so these visits are warm reminders of their best friends waiting for them at home.”

The WAGS dogs are pet therapy dogs certified in conjunction with the nonprofit Pet Partners, a national leader in pet therapy programs, and Bideawee, a no-kill pet rescue organization serving Long Island and the rest of the metropolitan area.

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