Many people consider their pets as part of the family. When a person is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the challenges and stress from the illness become the priority, and a pet may be overlooked. A program called Pet Peace of Mind is helping families alleviate the stress of caring for a pet while dealing with an end of life situation.

"I know of countless numbers of older adults – widows and widowers, veterans, those living with chronic illnesses and those on hospice care – who have said that their pet is their lifeline," says Dianne McGill, President of Pet Peace of Mind.

Pet Peace of Mind has helped thousands of people with pet care needs and preserves the bond that exists between hospice patients and their pets through the patient’s end-of-life journey.

Non-profit hospice programs can apply to become a Pet Peace of Mind program partner. If awarded, the organization is given the education and tools necessary to run a successful program.

Pet Peace of Mind is the focus of the newest video from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s public awareness campaign, "Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice."

Cornerstone Hospice patient Donna Sarner – featured in the video – is 68 years-old and lives in a small, rural town in Central Florida. She has late-stage cancer, which causes her a great deal of pain throughout her back, abdomen and legs, and limits her ability to care for her dogs, cats, and various other animals around her property.

The Pet Peace of Mind volunteers at Cornerstone Hospice are helping Sarner by delivering dog and cat food regularly and transporting her dogs to the veterinarian for vaccinations and medication.

"Along with caring for the dogs, our program arranged to have the stray cats she feeds spayed, neutered, and vaccinated," says Kristine Murtz, volunteer services manager and Pet Peace of Mind program coordinator at Cornerstone Hospice.

Sarner is adamant about keeping at least one of her four dogs by her side, and grateful that the Pet Peace of Mind volunteers are committed to making that happen. "She understands that it may not be realistic to have the three large dogs with her until the end, and we are already looking for loving homes for them," says Murtz.

The "Moments of Life" public awareness campaign, launched by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, features stories from hospices and palliative care programs across the United States of patients and families experiencing hospice and palliative care first hand.

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