PetSmart Charities Donation Expands Pet Therapy Program at Orlando Health

Grant will help increase the number of dog-handler teams providing the healing power of pets from 60 to 90 by 2019

Orlando, FL (May 10, 2018) –North America’s leading animal welfare funder is helping Central Florida patients experience the healing power of pets.

PetSmart Charities announced today the donation of is a $279,000 grant to Orlando Health in support of its Pet Therapy program.

The gift will allow Orlando Health to significantly expand program operations by adding up to 30 pet therapy dog/handler teams and increasing the program’s areas of visitation throughout the Orlando Health system of hospitals. In recognition of the donation, the program will be rebranded to the Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program Supported by PetSmart Charities.

“Pet therapy is in high demand at our hospitals and clinics so we’re very excited to have PetSmart Charities as a supporter of such an important program to the health and well-being of our patients,” says John Bozard, president of the Orlando Health Foundation. “Nothing makes our patients smile like a visit from our pet therapy teams and we’ll be able to reach even more patients – children and adults – because of our partnership with PetSmart Charities.” 

The pet therapy program at Orlando Health was launched nearly two decades ago, engaging in animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities to encourage patients to reach medical milestones, bravely face difficult procedures and comfort families and staff members. It includes 60 dog-handler teams who make more than 50,000 pet therapy visits annually, delivering the healing power of pets to seven hospitals throughout the Orlando Health network. 

“Pets can be a welcomed way to experience unconditional love for patients of all ages within the sometimes scary environment of a medical facility,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, president of PetSmart Charities. “The presence of these four-legged volunteers has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety during challenging times and provide much-needed comfort for those who spend a significant amount of time away from their own homes for medical procedures and recovery.  The dog-handler teams at Orlando Health have shown their commitment to going above and beyond the call of duty in everyday patient care as well as extreme conditions like following the Pulse Nightclub shooting and for that we are incredibly grateful for their services. Together with these dedicated volunteers, we hope to deliver the power of pets to more people at Orlando Health for years to come.”

PetSmart Charities presented the grant to Orlando Health during an event at Orlando Regional Medical Center attended by hospital team members and leadership, PetSmart Charities leadership and local retail associates, and several dog/handler teams with the Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program Supported by PetSmart Charities.

For more information on the Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program and learn how to become a volunteer, please visit For more information on PetSmart Charities, please visit

About Orlando Health

Orlando Health is a $3.4 billion not-for-profit healthcare organization and a community-based network of hospitals, physician practices and outpatient care centers across Central Florida. The organization is home to the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, and is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. More than 2,900 physicians have privileges across the system, which is also one of the area’s largest employers with more than 20,000 employees who serve more than 112,000 inpatients, more than 2.4 million outpatients, and more than 10,000 international patients each year.  Additionally, Orlando Health provides more than $450 million in total value to the community in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more. Additional information can be found at

About PetSmart Charities®

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together.  In addition to finding homes for almost 500,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities provides funding to non-profits aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support:  Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores.  In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar donated and has become the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, donating about $300 million to date. PetSmart Charities, a 501(c)(3) organization, has received the Four Star Rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 14 years in a row -- placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization.  To learn more visit

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