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Treatment at Children's Mercy sometimes takes 4 legs

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 14:26:54-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children's Mercy has an employee with an unique role.

He's a doctor, nurse and child life specialist all in one. But, there's a catch. He's not human.

After a full day of procedures and constant visits from doctors, patients want some normalcy, and that's where Hunter comes in.

Hunter is a trained facility dog. Through other organizations, he was purchased for the hospital three years after specialists saw a need for the K-9.

"We discovered Canine Assistant. It's a facility in Atlanta that raises service dogs primarily to go help an individual that has a physical need," said Aimee Hoflander, facility dog coordinator at Children's Mercy.

After some training, he started supporting patients at his 9-5 job.

On Wednesday, Hunter stopped by to say hello to Harper Claar. Harper, 10, was diagnosed with cancer back in May and has been in the hospital for almost two months.

"He puts me in a lot of comfort when he comes," Harper said.

Harper's grandmother said Hunter makes her granddaughter forget the battle she's facing.

"After seeing all the awful things she has to go through and how much pain and poking and prodding and testing, to see her smile and beam and glow like this it just warms your heart," Harper's grandmother Cheryl Kappes said.

The hospital has one other trained service dog, Hope, who spends her time at the Kansas campus.

Hunter's handler said he knows the difference between work and play. She hopes they will add another dog to the hospital.

"We would always love to see the program expand. I would love to watch it grow," said Hoflander.

And the patients would agree.

Learn how to apply for a service dog here.