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Westminster's Therapy Dog Program, Angel On A Leash, To Benefit Patients at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian

NEW YORK (Nov 9, 2004)

America's oldest and most prestigious organization dedicated to purebred dogs is creating a pet therapy program for New York's leading children's hospital with the goal of enhancing the healing process for its pediatric patients.

Angel On A Leash brings together The Westminster Kennel Club and Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian to benefit young patients and their families through the integration and expansion of therapy dogs into patient care.

Being in a hospital can be a frightening time for children away from the comforts of home and family, facing medical procedures and treatments. The use of therapy dogs has been shown to help reduce stress for pediatric patients and their families. Scientific studies are showing the many benefits, ranging from encouraging smiles and conversation, to motivating them during physical therapy.

"Westminster is much more than an annual dog show", said Peter R. VanBrunt, President of The Westminster Kennel Club. "Westminster is a celebration of the dog as an important part of our lives. Our partnership with Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital is affirmation of our belief that our dogs make our lives happier and healthier, something that we have been showing the world for more than 125 years."

"Children at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital will be delighted to have these special friends come to visit them. Pets are often a dearly missed part of the family when children require extensive stays at the hospital," says Cynthia Sparer, Executive Director of the Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian. "Our partnership with The Westminster Kennel Club and the launch of our new program, Angel on a Leash will provide an opportunity for our children to play, be comforted, and express themselves – just as they would at home."

"For the past six years our pet therapy program has had a tremendous positive impact on patients, families and staff. Partnering with Westminster will allow us to expand these services, says Joan Bompane, Director of Child Life at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. The therapy dogs connect patients,especially those who are suffering from chronic illness, to the outside world.The program brings unconditional love from an animal to the bedside which greatlycontributes to the emotional and physical healing process."

Westminster will fund its innovative undertaking through the sales of its 2005 poster created for its annual dog show: Westminster. There's only one, by noted artist Misha Lenn.

For information about Angel On A Leash, call (212) 213-3212 or e-mail angelonaleash@wkcpr.org.To order a poster or to learn more about The Westminster Kennel Club, go to www.westminsterkennelclub.org.

The Westminster Kennel Club

The Westminster Kennel Club is America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Established in 1877, Westminster's influence has been felt for more than a century through its famous all breed, benched dog show held every year at New York's Madison Square Garden. The show is America's second longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby. Westminster will stage its 129th consecutive show on February 14-15, 2005, nationally televised on USA Network.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is home to two of the world's leaders in pediatric care, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, affiliated with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Komansky Center for Children's Health, affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College. Together, as the largest provider of children's health services in the tri-state area, they offer the best available care in every area of pediatrics – including the most complex neonatal and critical care, and all areas of pediatric surgery and surgical subspecialties.

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