Donors endow Michigan Medicine’s hospital dog program

Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz make donation to support canine program in perpetuity

Michigan Medicine's hospital dogs Denver, Anna, Bindi, and Fawn. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – A gift from donors Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz and the Lipschutz Family Fund has made Michigan Medicine’s Paws4Patients a permanent program in the health system.

To honor the family’s generosity, the program has been renamed the Lipschutz-Danzansky Family Paws4Patients Program.

Established in 2016 with the support of several donor families, the program -- and its four-legged caregivers -- provides support and comfort to Michigan Medicine patients and their families.

The specially-trained dogs are able to ease anxieties, assist during treatments and procedures and provide motivation when visiting with patients.

“When you see the looks on the faces of patients when the Paws4Patients dogs enter their rooms and the sense of relief that consumes them, it brings tears to your eyes,” Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz, University of Michigan alumni and longtime U-M supporters said in a joint statement.

“The way the dogs brighten the day and bring smiles to the faces of patients and families is priceless.”

Left to right: Jordan Danzansky (son-in-law), Michael Lipschutz, Lainie Lipschutz, Allie Danzansky, and Kenny Lipschutz at a Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game in South Bend, Indiana. (Courtesy: Michigan Medicine)

The Lipschutzs are also members of the Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital Advisory Council.

The program currently has four “full-time” golden retrievers: Anna, Bindi, Denver and Fawn, who provide animal-assisted therapy at Michigan Medicine, including C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Canine Assistants, a Georgia-based nonprofit that trains and provides service dogs for people of all ages with physical disabilities or special needs, trained all four dogs. Each dog was matched with Michigan Medicine based on the types of patients that receive care and the health system’s needs.

The Lipschutz-Danzansky family endowment, in combination with donations from regular Paws4Patients supporters, will help cover the cost of ongoing veterinary care, training, grooming and expenses associated with recruiting more dogs into the program.

“We are so grateful for the Lipschutz-Danzansky family’s support of our program,” Kate Balzer, manager of the Lipschutz-Danzansky Family Paws4Patients Program said in a statement.

“Being in the hospital can be scary and stressful for patients and their families, and their generosity ensures that our patients, families, and staff will continue to benefit from the unique support and comfort that only our furry colleagues can provide.”

Research of animal-assisted therapy has demonstrated that the practice can lead to more positive outcomes and can lead to significant health benefits, according to U-M. Such benefits include lower stress and anxiety levels, increased patient mobility, improved blood pressure and a distraction from pain.

“We couldn’t be more excited to support the heartwarming Paws4Patients program and be able to help bring smiles and comfort to these patients and their families,” the Lipschutzs said in a joint statement.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.