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Canine and Children Craniofacial Patients Meet

By: Ashley Berke Date: Jun 14, 2016

Event coincides with National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month

[June 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA] – During the fourth annual Best Friends Bash on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, craniofacial patients from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) will meet canines who have undergone similar craniofacial procedures at Penn Vet or overcome other health challenges. The event, designed to help children embrace their differences, will coincide with National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month in July.

A video about the Best Friends Bash is available at

This specialized form of pet therapy helps children see how dogs are affected by similar challenges and how they have adapted. During the event, CHOP patients will have the opportunity to interact with the following dogs:

Emma, a Golden Retriever who had surgery to remove a craniofacial tumor

Marilyn Monroe, a Dachshund who underwent a full mouth dental extraction

Jasmine, a Shetland Sheepdog who had surgery to remove a craniofacial tumor

Bosco, a Rottweiler with a skull deformity who also had four leg operations

Cyrus, a mixed breed dog who was born without front legs

Tarot, a Rhodesian Ridgeback born with a birthmark on his face and a scar on his head who also has had extensive dental work for a severe overbite

“It is incredibly powerful to watch these remarkable, resilient kids interact with these amazing dogs,” said Dr. Alexander Reiter, Penn Vet Associate Professor of Dentistry & Oral Surgery. “The dogs provide unspoken comfort, creating an immediate bond that allows the children to realize they are not alone.”

“Craniofacial problems are complex medical conditions that can also negatively impact children's feelings about themselves,” said Scott P. Bartlett, MD, chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at CHOP. “Despite this, our patients show great resilience and strength. They strive to return normalcy to their lives — often while coping with major surgeries and other therapies throughout their childhood and adolescence. Events like this are a great opportunity for these children to see how dogs affected by similar problems have adapted.”

During the event, clinicians and nurses from CHOP’s Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and members of Penn Vet’s Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service will discuss cases and learn from each other’s techniques.

The Best Friends Bash will take place on June 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Penn Vet’s Hill Pavilion (380 S. University Ave., Philadelphia). The event is not open to the public.

The event is funded by a grant from Penn’s Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance (CHA), which consists of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, oral & maxillofacial surgeons, oculoplastic surgeons, and psychologists who have an interest in solving the problems of appearance caused by congenital defects, cancer, trauma, and disease. CHA funds many research and education projects that study and treat all aspects of appearance in children and adults.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 535-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit