In 2013, Jerry Serrafin, a local PetSmart District Manager, lost his battle to cancer. Knowing his love for pet therapy work, seven of the local stores combined fundraising efforts and donated a substantial gift to Orlando Health in his honor.
This donation marked the start of a vital partnership with PetSmart Charities, who recently granted a gift of $279,000.
Currently, the Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program supported by PetSmart Charities consists of 60 dogs making 50,000 visits a year. With this latest grant, the program hopes to include more integration between all nine Orlando Health hospitals, add 30 new teams, include outpatient areas and develop marketing and community outreach plans for the program.
The Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program is funded 100 percent through philanthropy and would not exist if it were not for donors like PetSmart Charities. We are one of only a few hospital systems that PetSmart Charities has continued partnering with due to our extensive and loyal volunteer infrastructure. We also have the first adult hospital in the country to be named a PetSmart Paws for Hope program.
Pet therapy has been found to have a myriad of positive benefits including:
- Easing pain and stress levels
- Shortening the healing process
- Increasing positive behavior in children
- Improving motivation and want to feel better
- Normalizing the hospitalization process
“I have the unique privilege of both working for Orlando Health and having been part of the Pet Therapy program with my two sweet dogs,” said Holly Stuart, Director of Patient Experience. “The joy we brought to the patients as we visited is forever etched in my memory. I know firsthand that our teams bring comfort, support, humor, empathy and real healing to our hospitals. We are so honored and grateful for PetSmart’s sustainment of our program and continued support.”
To make a gift in support of Orlando Health Pet Therapy, visit Give.OrlandoHealth.com/PetTherapy.