Pawprints, supported by the Hale Family Center for Families and Child Life Services, is the Boston Children’s Hospital’s animal assisted activity program. Pawprints provides patients and their families with a healthy diversion from the usual hospital routine and an opportunity for social interaction.
Frequently asked questions
Patients can have a visit if they meet specific criteria. On an inpatient unit, patients require a signed release from a member of their medical team and their parent or guardian. Outpatient visits require verbal consent from a parent or guardian and, in some cases, a signed release form.
Dogs visit most inpatient units, several outpatient clinic areas, the emergency department, and other designated areas of the hospital, as well as some of the hospital's satellite locations.
Child Life specialists, recreational therapists, and the staff at the Hale Family Center for Families can help schedule a visit.
Some dogs visit patient rooms. Others visit clinic waiting rooms and designated spaces in the hospital like the Hale Family Center for Families. Once a visit is scheduled, the patient decides how they want to interact with the dog. Dogs may sit on the floor, a chair, or on a clean sheet on the patient’s bed. The patient may pet, talk to, or watch the dog. Siblings and other family members are also encouraged to interact with the dog.
Visits typically last between five and 10 minutes, but the length of each visit varies. When planning visits, we consider the health and wellbeing of all involved, including the dog.
The dogs belong to and live with their owner, who is a hospital volunteer from the community.
Meet our team
We have over 20 dogs available for visits, and we’re always looking for more. View videos to get to know each care dog on our team “paw”sonally!
Dog and handler application
This page offers information on requirements for care dogs and the application process.
Paws + Read
Watch this video to learn more about Paws & Read, a canine-assisted literacy program within the Pawprints Program, at Boston Children’s Hospital.