A statement from Richard P. Miller, Virtua president and CEO

We greatly appreciate the concern of all those who are passionate about pet therapy and the wonderful effect animals have on people who are healing. Here at Virtua, we are dedicated to our pet therapy program and have received great reaction from many patients.

However, not all patients feel the same way about animals which is why they are asked prior to a visit whether they are interested in visiting with a pet and their handler. As a healthcare institution, our patients' feelings and what is clinically appropriate must be primary.

Our policy does not prohibit any breed from visiting our hospitals. All visits are determined by patient choice. Some of our patients are both physically and emotionally vulnerable and we must be sensitive when introducing animals onto patient floors.

Our policy requires the completion of the application paperwork and a screening and training process. In the case referred to in the many messages I've received, the fact is that the applicant never completed the correct paperwork and has not been through the application process which can be lengthy.

Once the appropriate paperwork is submitted, Aladdin will be considered for participation in our program. Unfortunately, the many messages I have received were sent without awareness of all the facts.

We are very grateful to the many dedicated pet lovers like you who are committed to pet therapy. All of us here at Virtua, starting with me personally, admire, respect and are grateful for your efforts. I do thank you for expressing your concerns and know that we will continue our commitment to the pet therapy program.


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