Construction begins on pet project at Crumlin Children’s Hospital

Being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of 14 is devastating, but for Cian Neri being able to see her Labrador puppy Cooper was a lifeline during dark times.

Now, after Sean’s death in 2019, his family is making sure other sick children can access their beloved pet cats or dogs, even while in hospital.

Construction of a pet visitation facility begins Monday on the grounds of CHI Crumlin Hospital in Dublin. The Cian’s Kennels Initiative, a registered charity founded by Cian’s parents, Evelyn and Enda, seeks to bring pets closer to sick children and their families.

Cyan’s parents, Evelyn and Anda Neri, Cyan’s brothers, Shane and Cooper. Photo: Shelley Corcoran

Families contact the charity, after which the animals are examined by veterinarians to make sure they are up to date with vaccinations. Charity picks up pets and takes them Hospital, where children will be able to visit pets on an appointment basis. The animals will then return to the local Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) facility, where they will be seated overnight.

Ms Neeri said she hopes the charity may be able to benefit families from being surrounded by their pets, as it did when Sian was in hospital.

Cyan’s diagnosis of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma in September 2018 was a “really painful experience for all of us,” she said.

“We asked her: ‘What would you like? Is there anything we can do to make you feel better?’ I have a Labrador puppy. Cooper,” she told The Irish Times.

“He never went back to school, or sports or anything after his diagnosis because he was undergoing treatment. And so he spent a lot of time with Cooper and he coached him and he went to him every day and it became ‘, you know, a little lifeline for them.”