American Family Children's Hospital welcomes 1st-ever service dog

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- There is a new employee at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, and he has a big smile, a soft spot for kids, and four legs. 

According to a news release, Kiko, a 2-year-old golden retriever from Georgia, arrived to work as a facility dog. She is professionally trained to work in healthcare settings and provide comfort to children during their treatment process.

Kiko will be the first dog in the new Canine Health And Medical Pals program, known as CHAMPs, at American Family Children’s Hospital. She is also the first facility dog in the state. Another trained facility dog will arrive in the spring of 2022. 

The program pairs a facility dog with a child life specialist, who is trained to be a facility dog handler, to provide customized interventions in conjunction with a coping plan for patients. 

Kiko will live with Brianna Hampton, child life specialist, UW Health Kids, and come to work with her each day. Like any new employee, Kiko is getting used to her role and it will take some time for her to get acclimated. She will begin onboarding in October and should be going into patient rooms soon.

“Kiko has a very calming presence, and most kids are already familiar with dogs so she will be a great addition to our team,” said Hampton. “Kiko is the first facility dog in the state of Wisconsin. I am honored to work with her and can’t wait to get started.”

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