Founder of Angel On A Leash

David Frei

Angel On A Leash was created as a charitable activity for the Westminster Kennel Club in 2004, with the goal of creating and supporting therapy dog programs in health care facilities. The program began with the New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York, and quickly expanded across the country into other cities.

“When we created Angel On A Leash through Westminster,” said David Frei, Angel president, “we felt that eventually we would expand into health care facilities around the country. We knew that we wanted to be in the best facilities with the best partners.

“I was familiar with the work of Mid South Therapy Dogs & Friends and its people, Mary Ehrhart and Debb Taylor in particular, and I knew that they were a perfect fit for us, not just because of their work in so many places with so many people in the Memphis area,” Frei said, “but because of their knowledge and experience and their integrity.”

“Not only did we add them as a partner for Angel On A Leash, but we immediately asked Mary to join our board and she immediately became and still is an integral part of what we do.”

Angel & David

In 2008, Mary and Debb were Angel On A Leash guests at The Westminster Kennel Club’s Annual Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  They brought a pediatric oncology patient from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, his parents and sister, as part of the special treat provided by Angel On A Leash.   Due to a generous Mid South Therapy Dogs & Friends supporter, they were able to use his private plane to fly the dogs as well as the patient and his mother from St. Jude to New York.

Walker, a German Shepherd, who is owned by Mary, was also featured along with several other special Angel On A Leash therapy dogs, not only on the floor of the Garden but also at the Empire State Building during the duration of the dog show.  Mid South Therapy Dogs extended an invitation to  fellow member, Jo Fusco and her dog, Kicker to accompany them on the trip.   They were all in a group of Angel volunteers who were introduced on the floor of the Garden to a rousing welcome from the capacity crowd.

Today, Angel On A Leash is active in a number of health care facilities around the country, including Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Ronald McDonald Houses in New York, Memphis, and Milwaukee; Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center; Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; Providence Health System (Portland, OR); the Fisher House at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston; and others. In addition, partnerships with Mid South Therapy Dogs in Memphis, Reading Education Assistance Dogs in Salt Lake City, and Animal Medical Center in New York help Angel on a Leash Teams reach many additional people in need.

Empire State Building


Front Lobby of the Empire State Building