Foundation Funds New Facility Dog at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

By Morgan Steward*

Therapist Kirsten Ondich with Kentucky and the Foundations' check

Therapist Kirsten Ondich with Kentucky and the Foundations’ check

Magee Rehabilitation Hospital has a new therapist roaming its halls. Kentucky, a 70-pound labrador and golden retriever mix, has arrived at the facility as a gift from the Casey Feldman and Anapol Weiss Foundation, who are long-time supporters of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.

Kentucky is a “facility dog,” which differs greatly from a traditional therapy dog. Whereas therapy dogs are used to boost the overall moral of patients and provide emotional support, facility dogs are highly skilled and trained animals who assist patients in completing daily tasks. For two years, Kentucky trained at Canine Companions for Independence where he learned how to turn on lights, open and close doors, take off someone’s shoes and socks, and even pick a credit card up from the floor.

This is the third facility dog that the Foundation has sponsored. The first, Ford, was sponsored in 2012, followed by Joey a few years later. The idea to sponsor an animal arose out of Casey’s love for service and animals. Casey understood how important an animal’s unconditional love was in the lives of others, especially those experiencing difficult times.

The patients who Kentucky assists at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital are recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and amputations. According to Kirsten Ondich, occupational therapist and Kentucky’s handler, having a furry friend around provides patients with extra incentive to exercise more frequently while also doing more reps of each exercise.

The Foundation has head a special relationship with Magee for several years now. For the past four years, the Foundation has honored the anniversary of Casey’s death with a day of volunteer service there.  Every “angelversary” thus far has combined Casey’s love for animals with her desire to serve in some manner—the first two years of service took place at the Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals in Radnor, Pennsylvania. This coming year, all are invited to join Foundation supporters to volunteer at Providence Animal Shelter in Media, PA on July 16th.

Related Link:

 Stacey Burling, “Magee Rehab’s new facility dog makes even therapy fun.”,  14 April 2017

Previous Casey Feldman Foundation articles about Magee and the Foundation sponsored facility dogs

Spinal cord injury patient, Elizabeth Gomez learning to move forward and sit back

Spinal cord injury patient, Elizabeth Gomez tosses Kentucky a ball as she leans to move forward and sit back


morgan steward*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. She is the Arts & Culture Co-Editor of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper (where Casey was the News Editor).