Woman fighting for pet visitation at hospitals - FOX 35 News Orlando

Woman fighting for pet visitation at hospitals

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It's a morbid, but often asked question: If you had one dying wish, what would it be?

A young lady from Orlando knows the healing power of pets, so she's fighting to allow hospital patients to visit with their furry family members. 

"My fur babies are my favorite medication," said Katie Robinson, 24.

And medication is something Robinson desperately needs. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was nine months old.

"Having Cystic Fibrosis is like having a severe case of bronchitis your entire life," said Robinson.

Seven years ago, she had a badly needed double lung transplant, but three years ago, doctors at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville said she'd entered end stage chronic rejection, meaning there's nothing more that doctors can do to help Robinson.

Last fall, her human best friend Melanie Pascuita said Robinson hit bottom.

"Not the person I met when I was 14," said Pascuita. "I went up there twice and it was the hardest thing I've ever seen."

"There is a point when the doctors told me I wasn't going to make it," said Robinson.

She said the nurses then asked her what would make her happy?

"All I could think of was to have my little dog with me," said Robinson.

With the proper paperwork, Shands allowed Robinson's nine year old shiba inu, Kitsune, to stay overnight.  Robinson went home two weeks later.

"There's no cure, but at least I get to live out the rest of my days with my pack," Robinson laughed.

And it's not just canines who help the cheerful young lady. Try equines, as well.

Robinson has two horses, Cheyenne and Ariel.  They're boarded in Christmas, Fla., and both have given Robinson the gift of pet therapy for the last 10 years.

"They just comfort me," said Robinson. "Just looking at them makes me happy."

Sadly, Friday was her first time to the horse farm to see her babies in months.

"Very well could have been my last time," said Robinson.

And now, she's looking for good homes for them. Robinson said she can't care for them like she used to care for them, and is looking to sell her horses to responsible owners.

"They've done their job for me," said Robinson. "They've got me through a lot. I know they can help somebody else"

Selling her horses is just one of Robinson's three current fights. The other two are encouraging more people to donate organs, and pushing more hospitals to accept pet therapy.

"Yeah it's nice to have the therapy dog," said Robinson. "But you know it's kind of like bringing somebody else's grandmother to your room and tell you a bedtime story.

"When they're around she has a glow," said Pascuita. "She's just so much happier and healthier. It's honestly amazing."

Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville told FOX 35 they've had their pet therapy program in place for a while. The dogs must be clean and have proof of vaccinations. Just this week one patient in the ICU had his dog visit him.

Robinson also writes a blog to inspire others, and encourage organ donation and pet therapy.   You can read her entries at KatiesConquest.wordpress.com.


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