Hospital support dogs Loki and Natasha observe the pilots in the cockpit
Specially trained hospital patient therapy dogs Loki and Natasha observe the activity in the cockpit during their flight on a Flexjet Praetor 500 from Atlanta to Cleveland. (Photo: Flexjet)

Flexjet Assists in VIP ('Very Important Pooch') Delivery

Two golden retrievers were flown in style to join the UH Cleveland Medical Center staff.

Furthering its relationship with University Hospitals (UH), private lift solutions provider Flexjet recently transported a team of emotional-support dogs and their handlers from their 14-month Pet Pals training program in Atlanta to Cleveland, where the two golden retrievers, Loki and Natasha, will join the UH Cleveland Medical Center staff. The pet therapy program provides benefits for pediatric and adult patients, including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and promoting healing.

“When a patient comes to the hospital. it’s at a time of intense stress and worry,” noted Diane Pektarek, the Pet Pals program coordinator at UH. “No matter how sick patients are, they always want a Pet Pal to visit them.”

Pet Pals is a nonprofit charity that relies on donations to cover the costs of the dogs, their training, and transportation. The animals typically live with hospital staff doctors or nurses and work a 40-hour week alongside them. This pair arrived aboard a Flexjet Embraer Praetor 500 at Cleveland Cuyahoga County Airport, where they were greeted by their new families.

“We consider it an honor to fly these Pet Pals and their handlers to their new homes here in Cleveland, while also expanding our partnership with University Hospitals,” said Flexjet CEO Michael Silvestro. “Our aircraft owners fly frequently with their pets and consider them members of their families, so we know just what to do to keep our canine and feline guests as comfortable and cared for as possible.”

In 2020, Flexjet announced a partnership with UH’s Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine to provide global health-related support for its clients.