Pets allowed at new Villa Samson hospital department


A new department has broken ground at UZ Brussel, which will not only provide animal therapy but will allow patients visits from their pets

A patient’s best friend

Construction has started on Villa Samson, the first hospital space in Belgium that will allow patients to visit with their pets and will use animal-assisted therapy. The project is an initiative of the University Hospital of Brussels (UZ Brussel) and will be located on its campus in Jette.

The name refers to the dog in the popular Flemish TV kids’ series Samson & Gert. Danny Verbiest, the actor who famously provided the dog’s voice from 1989 to 2005, serves as patron of the project.

Research shows that a pet can play an important role in the healing process, but pets are not allowed in Belgian hospitals, except assistance dogs. In Villa Samson, not only can a patient’s pet be brought in for a visit, therapeutic sessions will be organised with specially trained animals.

Any patient staying at UZ Brussel can use the Villa Samson facilities if the illness allows contact with animals. Some groups of patients have been shown to be particularly responsive to pet and animal therapy, including children and the elderly. Patients nearing the end of their life also often have a strong desire to say goodbye to their pet.

The project is largely funded through private donations from companies and individuals. Brussels secretary for animal welfare also allocated €30,000. A new fundraising campaign launches tomorrow.