Pet Pal Volunteers and their pets have been visiting Hospice East Bay patients and their families since 2008. They go through a meticulous certification with Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation to fulfill their therapeutic roles and offer companionship, comfort and joy.

"Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows the enormous love and acceptance pets provide. They love us unconditionally," says Joe Lumello, Bereavement Program Director for Hospice East Bay. "For people who are in hospice, the comfort pets provide can be especially beneficial. Put as simply as possible, pets make people feel good."

Animals can often reach people when human relationships may be difficult. Scientific research has shown that interaction with animals can increase responsiveness, facilitate mental alertness and revive socialization.