Statue Honoring Roswell Park Therapy Dogs Unveiled

Dogs, owners and community supporters pay tribute to all pets who comfort cancer patients
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

(BUFFALO, NY) Therapy dogs, their owners and nearly 100 community supporters gathered at Roswell Park Cancer Institute today to unveil a new statue bearing the likeness of Roswell Park’s first therapy dog.  The “Monty” statue honors the work of all therapy dogs that provide comfort and support to cancer patients and families at Roswell Park.

The therapy dog program was established at Roswell Park in 2006 by staff member Nicole Gerber and Monty, her English setter. Since then, the program has grown to include 14 dogs representing many breeds, including a St. Bernard, a Doberman Pinscher and a Papillon. Therapy dogs visit with patients and family members every weekday at Roswell Park, serving as comforting visitors who help calm patients and reduce the stress associated with cancer treatment.

Artist Lena Toritch of Salt Lake City, Utah, was commissioned to create the bronze statue that will stand in Kaminski Park on Roswell Park’s campus. The artist noted she created “Monty” with the goal of encouraging passers-by and visitors to approach and touch the statue.

“The therapy dog program at Roswell Park is part of our overall commitment to providing compassionate support services to our patients and their loved ones,” said Dana Jenkins, Vice President of Organizational Performance Improvement at Roswell Park.  “The dogs provide a calm, loving presence, and the joy on the faces of our patients as they interact with a therapy dog demonstrates the lasting impact of this program.”

Therapy dogs must be certified by noted training programs Therapy Dogs International or Pet Partners and go through six months of training before joining the program.  Pet owners who are interested in joining the program may find out more by contacting Roswell Park’s Volunteer Services department at 716-845-5708.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Kerry Jones Waring, Senior Communications Coordinator
716-845-1027; kerry.jones@roswellpark.org