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8110 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042

Animal Assisted Care Program: Inova Fairfax Medical Campus

The Animal Assisted Care program (AAC) on the Inova Fairfax Medical Center Campus was established in 2001 to complement recovery efforts by improving the physical and emotional well-being of our patients. Our teams see patients from every unit on campus including the ICUs.

The AAC Program:

  • Utilizes animals to help and assist patients in achieving their rehabilitation goals such as walking, reaching, brushing, etc.
  • Introduces physically challenged patients to service animals, the type of tasks and help they provide, and assists with provider agencies
  • Helps to arrange visits with personal pets for long-term care patients

Since its inception, the teams of the AAC Program have visited over 12,500 patients, conducted over 35,000 visits, and had over 1500 patients work with their own pets. The AAC Program cannot be successful without its volunteer handler and canine teams and is very grateful for their contributions.

Requirements for the dogs in our program:

  • 3 nurses holding a tiny dogParticipating dogs must be registered with Pet Partners and/or to be service animals and/or to be service animals in training
  • Our program mandates that the dogs are current in canine-specific vaccinations or titers
  • Each dog is required to be cleaned, including teeth and ears, within 24 hours of arrival to decrease risk of allergen exposure or infection

Our program complies with the Center for Disease Control and the Association of Professionals in Infection Control Guidelines for therapy and service animal access.