Second life for stuffed animals


Stuffed animals serve a new, comforting purpose in this veterinary hospital.

This tip is straight out of the children's tale The Velveteen Rabbit. It starts with a child's stuffed animal that's now forgotten, sitting on a table at a local yard sale or community thrift store. It ends with our surgery assistant, Donna Reynolds, who's found a way to use these abandoned toys to help clients and patients alike.

Donna travels to local thrift shops and yard sales to buy stuffed animals. She brings them to the practice, where we remove buttons, plastic eyes, and anything else that could be a choking hazard. Then Donna picks a special stuffed animal for each surgery patient and puts it in the cage for snuggling as the patient wakes up from surgery. It may sound a little corny, but we've seen a dramatic change in our patients' recovery since we started doing this. Instead of waking up flat on the bottom of the cage, animals appear more comfortable snuggled against the animal. Donna also takes a picture of the pet with its stuffed animal and gives the patient and the toy to the owner with post-op instructions. Our clients love this and can't believe how much love and attention their pets receive while in our care.

—Katie Caslow, practice manager, Appalachian Animal Hospital, East Ellijay, Ga.

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