By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In an effort to care for the physical and emotional needs of patients, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia today announced that it is expanding its pet therapy program.

CHOP patient Camden Divert, 10, of Pottsville, Pa., was all smiles today when he got  to meet about ten therapy dogs.

“Dogs make me happy,” he said, “just because they are so fun and they love to play with me.”

His mother, Shawna Divert, said she sees the benefits of therapy dogs.

“They encouraged him to be distracted,” she noted today.  “He has some pretty severe abdominal pain due to digestive issues.   He was not feeling good this morning at all.   And as soon as they said the therapy dogs were coming, he was out, his shoes were on, and he was ready to go!”

There are currently 24 therapy dogs in the Gerald B. Shreiber pet therapy program, including Cyrus, born without his front legs, who uses wheels to get around.

“I like Cyrus,” Camden said.

The hospital wants to add about 50 dogs to the program within the next two years.

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