St. Charles Hospital’s furry volunteer retires after 17 years

Press Staff Writer

        On March 7, Mercy Health – St. Charles Hospital celebrated a dedicated volunteer who has doggedly been bringing wiggles and snuggles, all wrapped up in a wagging tail and wet nose, to patients for 17 years.
        Murphy, a Bichon Frise, retired at the age of 18. Although still healthy, the longtime therapy dog is hanging up his leash to spend his golden years curled up at home with his parents, Gary and Chris Witzler. His younger sibling, Oreo, a mixed breed, will continue to visit patients in the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at St. Charles Hospital.
        St. Charles staff and patients were on hand to wish Murphy well as he made his last visit to the hospital.
        Studies show pets can positively affect measures of health, including decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Additionally, research shows that pets, particularly dogs, can lower stress and anxiety levels, among other emotional benefits.
        “Mercy Health is grateful for our many volunteers – both two- and four-legged – who give of their time to help our staff and patients every day,” said Erica Blake, director of public relations and communications at Mercy Health. “Pet therapy dogs are particularly in need at our Mercy Health hospitals. Because at a time and in a place where they are often least expected, therapy dogs are able to help hospital patients in powerful ways.”
        For more information on volunteering opportunities, visit


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