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Video Spotlight

CBS Sunday Morning News takes a look at the University of Oklahoma Anesthesia Department and their use of the OU College Of Medicine's Clinical Skills Education & Testing Center.
CBS Sunday Morning News

OU Medicine News

News Release





Date: Sept. 21, 2017
For more information:
Vallery Brown
OU Medical Center/The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center
Office: (405) 271-7900


OKLAHOMA CITY – Everyone knows dogs are considered a man’s best friend, and that’s exactly why The Children’s Hospital VOLUNTEERS charity has brought on a four-legged pal as a full-time caregiver and companion for patients and families at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.  

Targa, an 18-month-old female golden retriever, is Oklahoma’s first dedicated hospital therapy dog. She was trained specifically to work in a hospital. The Children’s Hospital VOLUNTEERS and Edmond North High School’s Bring a Light to Others (BALTO) program raised funds to bring Targa to the team and expand the Paws for Purpose pet therapy programming at the hospital.

Targa’s first day at the hospital was Sept. 18. On Sept. 21, she enjoyed a dog-themed party in the Children’s play area and met patients and staff.


Research shows therapy animals in hospital settings can reduce anxiety, stress and fears in patients. A recent trend at top hospitals is expanding volunteer-based pet therapy to include facility therapy animals working alongside clinically trained employees.

Sara Jacobson, executive director of The Children’s Hospital VOLUNTEERS, has witnessed the power of pet therapy through Children’s current volunteer pet therapy animals and by observing other hospital programs. She knew The Children’s Hospital would benefit from a full-time therapy dog.

“Our current volunteer pet therapy program is amazing,” said Jacobson. “Kids look forward to Wednesday nights when therapy animals visit our group play area. They build strong relationships with our dogs and volunteers. Expanding to add a first-ever hospital facility therapy dog was a dream.”

And it was a dream that resonated with BALTO organizers and Edmond North students, many of whom had been in the hospital or who had friends treated at Children’s.

“We wanted to share this as a clear direction for how they could help The Children's Hospital VOLUNTEERS truly change lives of our kids,” said Jacobson 

BALTO ended up raising more than $271,000 to help fund the Paws for Purpose program, which allowed the Children’s Hospital VOLUNTEERS to work with Canine Assistants, a nonprofit service dog training program based near Atlanta, and pay for all the needs of Targa and the program for years to come.

Earlier this month, Skyler Munday, facility dog coordinator for Children’s, went to Georgia to meet Targa, learn about working with her and then bring her back for Oklahoma’s kids.  

“The beauty of Targa is that she can go to inpatient and outpatient units and she can be there for staff as well,” said Munday. 

Canine Assistants trained Targa from about 8 weeks old to be in a hospital environment, so she’ll be comfortable and confident walking the hospital hallways, cuddling on patient beds and navigating all the different smells, scenarios and intricacies of a health care atmosphere.  

“She’s not a dog who was a pet and is just well-trained; she’s been groomed to be in the hospital setting,” Munday said. 

Canine Assistance worked with Munday and the hospital to find and train a dog that matched the hospital’s needs as well as the personality of Munday, since she will be Targa’s full-time companion.

Targa, like Munday, has a calm demeanor and kind spirit. Both love to snuggle and spend quality time with others. In many ways, they’re a perfect match. Targa will live with Munday and come with her to Children’s during the workweek and for other special events. 

“She’s our first full-time dog, but we already know we will need more. This is completely community funded and so we hope it will grow and we will be able to bring more dogs to the hospital,” said Munday.

For Canine Assistants, whose mission is to “educate dogs and the people who need them so they may improve the lives of one another,” training Targa and Munday to help kids at Children’s was an act of love.

“We are sending up to Oklahoma City our heart. You’re getting an extraordinary dog with magical abilities and the love and care of all of us here,” said Jennifer Arnold, founder and executive director of Canine Assistants.  

For Munday, Jacobson and the hospital patients, staff and families, Targa will truly be a dream come true.

“It has paid off to dream big for our kids,” said Jacobson. 

Photos of Targa: (Photos courtesy of The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center):

Video of Targa:

For unedited B-roll, email:



The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center has 314 inpatient beds and is the only freestanding pediatric hospital and clinic in Oklahoma solely dedicated to the treatment of children. Our pediatric staff blends years of specialized pediatric training with education, research and technology to treat conditions ranging from cardiothoracic and oncology-related illnesses to neonatal specialty care and pediatric solid-organ transplants. Our 93-bed neonatal intensive care unit provides the highest level of neonatal care in Oklahoma. Children’s Heart Center brings cutting-edge research, treatment and surgery to patients with congenital and acquired heart conditions. We have the state’s largest staff of Child Life specialists to help children and families cope with hospitalization. Along with being the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in Oklahoma City, MetroFamily Magazine readers have twice voted our ER as the favorite in the metro. To learn more, visit and find us on Facebook.


The Children’s Hospital VOLUNTEERS is a 501(c) 3 charity helping kids smile, laugh, cuddle, play and create—as much as they can, while they are in the hospital. Established in 1973 as a volunteer auxiliary, more than 275 full time volunteers and another 1,000 special visitor volunteers gave their time last year to create joyful and supportive experiences for thousands of children and their families. Pet Therapy is one of many beloved programs, including: the Toy Cart, special events, The Zone, Puppy Love and Creative Arts. Learn more at