Flexjet Partners with University Hospitals to Transport Pet Pals Facility Dogs to Their New Home

November 29, 2022

  • Safe, Calm, Complimentary Transportation Follows 14 Months of Specialized Training at Canine Assistants in Georgia
  • Highly Trained Facility Dogs Comfort Children and Adults Undergoing Highly Stressful Medical Treatments
  • These Therapy Dog Received the Same Travel Experience Flexjet Provides to the Pets of its Aircraft Owners


CLEVELAND, November 29, 2022Flexjet, Inc., a global leader in subscription-based private aviation, is expanding its longstanding relationship with University Hospitals (UH) by supporting the Pet Pals Program. Flexjet transported a team of dogs and their handlers from their 14-month training program at Canine Assistants in Atlanta to long-term assignments at UH, where they will comfort children and adults undergoing stressful medical treatments.

There are only 150 facility dogs with this highly specialized training working at hospitals across the country. With the addition of these two Golden Retrievers – Loki, a one-year-old male and Natasha, a one-year-old female – UH will now offer four facility dogs at various locations throughout its main campus, UH Cleveland Medical Center. These special dogs live with hospital staff – often a doctor or a nurse and will work a 40-hour work week alongside them.

The dogs, which are typically Golden Retrievers, Labradors or Goldendoodles, work in pediatric hematology/oncology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and the Breen Breast Health Facility at UH Seidman Cancer Center, to name a few.

Loki, who will work in Volunteer Services, and Natasha who will be in the UH Rainbow pediatric intensive care unit and their handlers arrived at Cuyahoga County Airport (ICAO: KCGF) east of downtown Cleveland onboard a Flexjet Praetor 500 midsized jet. They were greeted by their new families and taken to their new homes.

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“We consider it an honor to fly these Pet Pals and their handlers to their new homes here in Cleveland, OH, while also expanding our partnership with University Hospitals,” said Michael J. Silvestro, Flexjet’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our aircraft Owners frequently fly 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. I see it firsthand every time I travel with our dogs.”

Pet Pals is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and relies on donations to cover the costs of the dogs, their training, transportation, etc. PetSmart Charities is among the donors who made this new team of support animals possible.

Pet therapy has multiple benefits for children and adults, reducing stress, promoting healing, lowering blood pressure and lifting spirits. It also provides a comforting source of healing touch and joy for both child and adult patients as well as UH caregivers.

According to Diane Pekarek, the Pet Pals Program Coordinator at UH, “When a patient comes to the hospital, it’s at a time of intense stress and worry. However, when patients see a facility dog or pet therapy animal, their faces, and their demeanor change. Their cares ease. No matter how sick patients are, they always want a pet pal to visit them.”


Each of the dogs already in the UH program has been trained for a specific job:

  • Melena, a female Golden Retriever, works in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
  • Blue, a male Golden/Lab Doodle, is assigned to assist hospital employees


In 2020, Flexjet entered into a partnership with University Hospitals’ Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine, which offered a wide range of services designed to address the health-related needs and concerns of Flexjet’s sophisticated, globetrotting clientele.


About Flexjet

Flexjet, Inc., a global leader in subscription-based private aviation, first entered the fractional jet ownership market in 1995. In 2022 the company entered into a business combination agreement with Horizon Acquisition Corporation II (“Horizon”) (NYSE: HZON); the combined company is expected to trade on the NYSE. Flexjet offers fractional jet ownership and leasing and is the first in the world to be recognized as achieving the Air Charter Safety Foundation’s Industry Audit Standard, is the first and only company to be honored with 23 FAA Diamond Awards for Excellence, upholds an ARG/US Platinum Safety Rating, a 4AIR Bronze Sustainable Rating and is IS-BAO compliant at Level 2. Red Label by Flexjet, a market differentiator, which features the most modern fleet in the industry, flight crews dedicated to a single aircraft and the LXi Cabin Collection of interiors. To date there are more than 40 different interior designs across its fleet, which includes the Embraer Phenom 300 and Praetor 500, Bombardier Challenger 350, the Gulfstream G450 and G650. Flexjet’s European fleet includes the Embraer Praetor 600 and the Gulfstream G650. Flexjet’s helicopter division sells fractional, lease, and on-demand charter access to its fleet of owned and operated Sikorsky S-76 helicopters serving locations throughout the northeastern United States, United Kingdom and Florida. Flexjet is a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies. For more details on innovative programs and flexible offerings, visit www.flexjet.com or follow us on Twitter @Flexjet and on Instagram @FlexjetInc.

About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of more than 20 hospitals (including five joint ventures), more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and over 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship quaternary care, academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Oxford University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The main campus also includes the UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, Ohio’s only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, with more than 3,000 active clinical trials and research studies underway. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to 19 Clinical Care Delivery and Research Institutes. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with more than 30,000 employees. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit UHhospitals.org


Flexjet Public Relations

Nicholas Parmelee
The Hubbell Group, Inc.
[email protected]