A hospital in Chicago has begun allowing pet owners to receive visits from their animals in order to help them along in their recovery.
The policy was approved by the Rush University Medical Centre in December following three years of studies and investigations into issues such as cleanliness, cost and logistics, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Officials at the hospital decided that the emotional benefits for patients would outweigh the drawbacks, and implemented the policy along with 12 other medical facilities across the US.
The policy only applies to cats and dogs, which means patients who own tarantulas, snakes or iguanas will have to wait until they are discharged before seeing their pet, and all animals must have received pet medications and vaccinations against diseases such as rabies.
Pet visiting programmes have been in place at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics since 2000 and the University of Maryland Medical Centre since 2008, with no reports of any problems or incidents.