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Huntsville Hospital Foundation Receives $186,000 Grant from PetSmart Charities® to Continue Facility Dog Program

Canines for Coping is fully funded through donor support

Huntsville Hospital Foundation Receives $186,000 Grant from PetSmart Charities® to Continue Facility Dog Program
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Huntsville Hospital Foundation and PetSmart Charities know that pets have the remarkable ability to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve our mood, and bring us unconditional love. That’s why PetSmart Charities is continuing its generous support of the Canines for Coping facility dog program through a $186,000 grant to Huntsville Hospital Foundation.  

Sister-brother dynamic duo Asteroid and Orbit are Golden Retrievers that make up the Canines for Coping program, which is 100-percent donor funded. The professionally trained service dogs bring comfort and support to pediatric and adult patients at not-for-profit Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and were the first hospital facility dogs in Alabama.

This impactful program launched in July 2019. Because of patient volume and an overwhelmingly positive response, a second facility dog was needed. A $70,441 grant from PetSmart Charities in 2019 covered the cost of the additional dog and its intensive training, which prepared it to provide services based on medical goals, to be present during medical procedures and to assist with bereavement. PetSmart Charities continued its support of the program through a $46,500 grant, awarded in September 2020.

Now, the charity’s impact and partnership has continued. With this multi-year grant totaling $186,000, PetSmart Charities is covering continued costs associated with the dogs, their care, and the care they provide for hospital patients and staff through 2023. This generous grant will enable the program to continue bringing joy, comfort and improved outcomes for patients of all ages.

“The human-animal bond is powerful in hospital settings,” said Kelly Balthazor, Senior Community Grants Manager at PetSmart Charities. “These specially trained dogs bring so much more than cheer. Their integration in therapeutic practices spurs neurological responses that reduce stress, enhance movement and ultimately impact physical, emotional and psychosocial healing. What you see is a dog loving on a patient, but what’s happening in the mind, body and spirit during those exchanges is truly remarkable.”

Across North America, PetSmart Charities has granted more than $2.3 million to support animal assisted therapy programs. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices that enhance the human-animal bond. Since 1994, the leading funder of animal welfare has donated nearly $400 million to improve access to veterinary care, to help preserve families, to positively impact communities, and to connect people and pets through initiatives like this program with Huntsville Hospital Foundation.



About Huntsville Hospital Foundation
Huntsville Hospital Foundation exists to provide lifesaving technology and meaningful programs that improve patient lives. The Foundation raises essential funding for not-for-profit Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, and Madison Hospital through individual and corporate donations, providing more than $4 million in funding for hospital needs each year. For more information, visit


About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps nearly 600,000 pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to support rganizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter and emergency relief. Each year, millions of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities directly at, while shopping at, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting more than $475 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of rated charities. To learn more visit