Tampa, Fla. — The miracles of modern medicine come in all forms and sometimes on all fours. After a year away because of COVID-19 restrictions, Pet Therapy is back and helping everyone smile at Moffitt Cancer Center

What You Need To Know

  • Pet Therapy is back at Moffitt Cancer Center

  • There are 43 pet therapy dogs who help out at Moffitt

  • There are still a few restrictions in place

“That is what I heard, and I just happen to be the lucky one that was here today," said Suzanne Viars, patient. 

“I come every other day for whether it’s a blood transfusion, or just to get my labs, and then chemo treatments as well," said Donna Rossi, patient. "But I have never had such a great day here, this is wonderful.”

Rossi is battling acute myeloid leukemia. Fighting cancer is not easy, but when a pack of pups are on your side, it helps make patients feel stronger. 

“That was amazing," said Rossi, after petting a few of the therapy dogs. "I said multiple times this is the best therapy ever, and not what you expect. This is not like, ya know you wake up in the morning, it’s not your favorite place to go (Moffitt), so this totally made the difference.”

From a good lean into a scratch to a good wag, the healing is widespread. 

“We always thought that the return of the pet therapy program would indicate that we are returning to a sense of normalcy," said Lawanda Byrd, Moffitt Cancer Center Volunteer Services Director.

There are still a few restrictions which include the therapy dogs staying in the main lobby areas and no licking of faces. Plus, the volunteers are all equipped with hand sanitizer. 

“It’s very heartwarming and relaxing. I can’t imagine anyone having any anxiousness when they are around a little puppy like this," said Viars. 

On the first day back, it seemed like the dogs were as excited as the people. 

There are 43 pet therapy dogs who help out at Moffitt.