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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 9, 2008

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Awards Grant to Pet Therapy Program

NEW YORK, NY—A long-standing pet therapy program in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will now be able to serve significantly more seniors and people with Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to monies obtained through a grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA).

AFA named People Animals Love (PAL) as the 2008 recipient of The Brodsky Grant, which is awarded each year to one of AFA’s nonprofit member organizations to develop or expand an innovative program. The grant honors Bert Brodsky, AFA’s chairman, and his wife, Muriel.

“This type of program is so valuable for individuals with dementia because it provides mental stimulation as well as feeds their emotional needs. It speaks volumes about enhancing quality of life,” Brodsky said.

According to PAL officials, the $30,000 grant will enable the organization to train more volunteers and increase its pet therapy visitation program by 30 percent. Currently, PAL’s 270 volunteer teams of certified dogs and their handlers visit 24 retirement homes, nursing facilities and other sites, providing therapy to more than 1,000 adults and children each month who are “sick, lonely, forgotten, frightened, wounded or otherwise in need of a warm hug, a friendly smile, a reassuring wagging tail and a little companionship.”

PAL volunteers and their dogs undergo extensive evaluation and training prior to visiting care facilities so that the visits can provide positive experiences. With the grant, PAL hopes to further document the effects of the program.

“The rewarding part of this job is hearing stories from volunteers about patients who have not spoken a word or looked at anyone for years suddenly smiling, or calling out the name of a dog they used to own,” said Joseph S. Cavarretta, PAL’s executive director.

There is growing evidence citing the benefits of pet therapy for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. According to Cavaretta, the PAL visits have resulted in decreased aggression, depression and disorientation, and increased verbalization, expression of positive emotions and memory recall among many of its clients.

AFA introduced the Brodsky Grant in 2005. Past grants have funded the rollout of Eden at Home’s Core Concepts Training, a program by the Eden Alternative; production of a documentary about Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome by the Kennedy Center, Trumbull, CT; and expansion of a caregiver outreach program by Senior Care of Brevard, Cocoa, FL.

In addition to this special grant for innovative care, AFA awards multiple grants twice a year based on a competitive review process. Only non-profit member organizations of AFA can apply.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of hundreds of member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free helpline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484