Eskenazi Health Foundation Announces $1 Million Gift from Robert & Gina Laikin for Pet Therapy Services

In appreciation of a generous $1 million gift, Eskenazi Health Foundation announces the naming of the Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health.

The Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health utilizes therapy dogs who have been trained and evaluated to bring comfort to patients, staff and visitors at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. Nurses can arrange visits for patients who they feel could benefit from interaction with a dog. Patients can hold or pet the dogs, and the dogs are also able to lie on the bed with patients. The therapy dogs can also accompany patients at outpatient appointments or act as part of the rehabilitation process.

“The animals of the Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health provide a unique benefit to the patients, staff and visitors of Eskenazi Health,” said Ernie Vargo, president and CEO of Eskenazi Health Foundation. “This gift from Robert and Gina Laikin will help this program and its services expand to make its reach even greater. We are incredibly thankful for their generous support.”

“Sometimes the best medicine is that which cannot be prescribed, and the Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health truly helps lift the spirits of all who come through our doors,” said Lisa Harris, M.D., chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “We are grateful to the Laikins for their overwhelming support of this unique program.”

Robert and Gina Laikin are long-time supporters of Eskenazi Health, with Bob having served as vice chair of the Eskenazi Health Foundation Board of Directors and the couple supporting many different areas within the health system.

Animal-related causes are important to the Laikins, and Bob currently serves as a member of the IndyHumane Board of Directors and has served as a member of the Indianapolis Zoo Board of Trustees.

“We know firsthand the importance pets play in our lives and are great supporters of animal-related causes,” said Bob Laikin. “We also strongly believe in the mission of Eskenazi Health and have seen its great impact in our city. We are delighted to support its pet therapy services.”

The Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health currently has 24 therapy dogs on staff, including Ollie, Bella, Hero, Maverick, River, Bailey, Maisy, Hector, Butters, Gus, Koko, Honey, Baylee, Winnie, Zuzu, Zen, Quinn, Balou, Charlie, Grady, Cap, Elvira, Layla and Butler Blue. On any given day, pet therapy dogs will be seen in different areas within the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital visiting with patients, taking a moment to receive a pet from staff or greeting visitors. Patients admitted to the hospital can request a visit from a therapy dog at any point during their stay.

Patients can also visit with therapy dogs at The Lisa K. Humke Canine Therapy Garden at Eskenazi Health, an outdoor area which encourages holistic healing and simultaneously increases therapeutic animal and human interaction. Physical, occupational and speech therapists utilize the space while including the therapy dogs in their patients’ health goals. Chronic and palliative care patients can even reconnect and visit with their own pets in the Ruby’s Pet Family Visitation Area.

“The dogs of the Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program are always ready to help brighten a patient’s day,” said Shelly Fisher, manager of animal assisted pet therapy at Eskenazi Health. “This gift will help us continue to work alongside patients, providing another unique opportunity for healing.”

For more information on the Robert & Gina Laikin Pet Therapy Program at Eskenazi Health, please visit

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