Local News

Hospice program helps with patients’ pet care

SEBRING - Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care has announced that its Pet Peace of Mind program is now fully operational throughout Highlands and Hardee counties. The program is for hospice patients who own pets and it funds grooming, pet food, litter and routine vaccines. The program also provides volunteers to assist with dog walking and transportation to vet appointments plus visiting the pets’ owners at home, nursing facilities, hospitals or wherever patients may be. Sebring resident and hospice supporter Berniece Kimmel was contacted by a friend about Babe, a female Boston terrier displaced by the 2004 hurricanes that was available for adoption.
Kimmel used to raise Boston terriers years ago and adopted Babe. The program began when Lisa Gray, volunteer manager for Cornerstone Hospice, was introduced to Banfield Charitable Trust’s program “Pet Peace of Mind.” It was developed by Banfield specifically for not-for-profit hospices to help keep patients and their pets together longer. In May 2011, Banfield awarded Cornerstone a $5,000 grant and Pet Peace of Mind program materials needed to begin. Cornerstone became the first hospice in the state to be awarded this program. Melissa Carter, of Sebring, wanted a unique birthday gift for her daughter Albany and in December 2010, an English bulldog, “Tank” was born. “He has truly become the baby of the family”, said Carter, now happy to see her daughter has an inseparable companion and protector. Kimmel and the Carter family are hospice supporters ready to assist hospice patients with their pet needs. Cornerstone will also provide volunteers to assist with dog walking and transportation to vet appointments, or to visit their owners in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. “My firefighter husband found this male kitty cat after fighting a fire in an abandoned building,” said Sebring resident and volunteer specialist Dorothy Harris. “His feet were burned and his fur had melted plastic stuck on it. With loving care from Sebring Animal Hospital, kitty recovered, our daughter named him Shere Khan and he is now a sensation in our neighborhood.” Harris is the point person in Highlands and Hardee counties overseeing the pet program. If you would like more information or to register for one of Cornerstone’s volunteer training classes, call Harris at 253-1611 or volunteer manager Lisa Gray at (352) 742-6806.