Helping keep people and pets together. Since 1996.
PetPALS of Southern New Jersey, Inc. works to improve quality of life for pet owners in need. PetPALS helps low-income seniors, disabled and chronically ill pet owners with basic care of their companion pets, to reduce suffering and ensure our community members don’t have to surrender their beloved pet pals to a shelter. We are a group of volunteers who work to keep people and their pets together, as we recognize the important role pets play in a person’s life:
Pet ownership, particularly dogs and cats, has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Petting a dog and feeling a cat purr has an effect on the human cardiovascular system that lowers the blood pressure response to mental stress.
Pet owners have higher one-year survival rates following heart attacks.
Pets have an impact on depression and feelings of loneliness.
When someone is diagnosed with dementia, it is often assumed that keeping their pet is impossible. Studies show that pets have been known to increase the health of those with dementia while providing them with a friend to spend their time with.
People suffering from cancer who have pets have reported decreased pain and a decreased need for pain medication, lowered psychological distress and less fatigue.
Whether pet ownership gives pet owners cause to exercise, helps to abate loneliness, or gives them loving companions to care for, lessen worry, anxiety and pain, we recognize that animals can influence both our happiness and our health.
"Dogs and cats live very much in the present. They don't worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people."
Dr. Jay P. Granat
New Jersey-based psychotherapist
PetPALS was founded in response to the AIDS crisis in 1996. Working with local HIV/AIDS relief nonprofits, a dedicated group of volunteers would ensure that people living with and dying of AIDS were able to keep their companion animals healthy and at their sides as long as possible. Should the person pass away, PetPALS stepped in to ensure their clients' pets found a new home – ideally with the patient’s family members or friends, but also through a network of foster volunteers.
As the AIDS crisis abated and HIV became more of a chronic disease than a terminal diagnosis in the early 2000s, PetPALS expanded its mission to work with seniors and anyone demonstrating a financial need to keep their pets healthy and happy.
We have found that as people face financial difficulty, one of the hard choices and sacrifices they need to make is in their pet's veterinary care and, eventually, their food. This often leads to pets missing crucial vaccinations, regular exams that are able to diagnose and prevent serious (and costly) injuries and illnesses, and pets becoming overweight due to lack of exercise and a diet more reliant on human food, rather than pet food. This often places independent-living seniors in a difficulty position of having to choose between caring for themselves or caring for their pets, which leads to more pets being set free or surrendered to shelters, or being euthanized due to the inability to care for them.
Today we serve dozens of financially-qualifying clients, including delivering food and supplies, medicines, preventive veterinary care and more to keep animals happy and healthy, and to help lessen the demands on a fixed-income client.