UK Happenings

UK Employees Invited to Send Photos of Their Pets for Arts in HealthCare Pet Gallery

photo of dog with tennis ball
All UK and UK HealthCare employees are invited to submit photos for a pet gallery to celebrate National Pet Month.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 27, 2020) – May is National Pet Month, and Arts in HealthCare invites all UK campus and UK HealthCare employees to submit photos of their pets for a photo exhibition.

Participants may submit up to three photos of their pet(s) that capture their pet’s personality - whether it’s funny, playful or sweet. Photographers of all skill levels are welcome to participate. Email your submission(s) along with your pet’s name to Due to the overwhelming number of submissions, the new deadline for submission is Monday, April 13.

At least one photo submission from each participant will be chosen and displayed in three staff areas (one by the UK Chandler Hospital Pavilion A staff elevators, one in Chandler Pavilion H, and one in Good Samaritan Hospital) in May as part of National Pet Month. National Pet Month follows National Pet Therapy day, which is on April 30th. 

In addition to staff photo submissions, the dogs of the Animal Assisted Therapy Program at UK HealthCare will be featured. The Animal Assisted Therapy program is housed within Integrative Medicine and Health and is also part of Volunteer Services.

Animal Assisted Therapy Program

The core values of the UK Healthcare canine counselors are service, education and research. Their mission is to enhance and improve the experience of all patients, families, caregivers, faculty and staff throughout the UK Healthcare enterprise by providing consistent and compassionate animal-assisted therapy interactions. They strive to utilize each contact as an opportunity to provide the unique enriching experience that only animal-assisted therapy can offer.

The overarching definition of pet therapy, also referred to as animal assisted intervention (AAI) and animal assisted therapy (AAT), is any practice that involves animals as a part of a therapeutic process with the goal of positively affecting human health, by utilizing animals as adjuncts to therapy. Animal assisted therapy is a growing field that helps people recover from or cope with mental health disorders, heart disease, cancer, stress and anxiety. While many types of animals may serve in the area of animal assisted therapy, dogs are the most common of these.

Animal assisted therapy consists of a “team” which is comprised of a handler and their dog. The handler typically owns and trains the dog before going through an evaluation through a certification organization. Organized therapy dog groups provide educational material to volunteers, screen both volunteers and dogs, and provide liability insurance for the dog and handler when volunteering in a therapy setting. Handlers are not allowed to be paid while working with their dogs. There are numerous local, national and international certification organizations, and many are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a path towards achieving an AKC Therapy Dog title for your dog. If you want a therapy dog team to visit you or your patients, call Susan Pressly Lephart, Ph.D., (412-897-3934 or, Integrated Medicine and Health (859-323-4325), or UK HealthCare Volunteer Services (859-323-6023).

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.