Zoe Vanle — Therapy
Little Zoe was born in a rural town in Iowa, although tiny in size, she has a big heart to serve and offer others hope. She has made an impact in the lives of children receiving medical care in Los Angeles, CA, where she is a therapy animal at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She meets with children and young adults suffering from debilitating psychiatric conditions such as depression, suicide attempt, schizophrenia and bipolar depression. One was a 10 year-old autistic boy who was on the kidney transplant list, as his kidneys had failed to work for the past year. However, he could not be given a kidney due to his depression and thoughts of suicide. Zoe regularly visited his hospital room and played with him to help his mood. His mood instantly lifted, and his depression disappeared in the next few weeks, and he was able to receive a kidney to continue living a normal life.
Zoe is a symbol of the American Hero Dog because although small and seemingly frail, she plays a big role in enhancing Americans’ mental health and offers strength and well-being to many sick children. At the hospital, she is the preferred therapy dog for small children and those with delicate wounds. Given her small size, she poses as a little risk to cause any physical harm. She accompanies her ‘mommy’ handler, a Psychiatry Fellow who regularly meets with these patients. In the hospital room, Zoe’s presence instantly melts away tension. There’s no activity that brings Zoe more satisfaction than volunteering.