PAL is a non profit organization that leverages the power of the human-animal bond to provide for the Washington DC Metropolitan area. In our Pet Visit Program, wagging tails and wet noses ease the loneliness of the elderly and comfort the sick. Warm, gazing eyes help early readers feel comfortable reading out loud when dogs visit libraries. In our PAL Camp and PAL Club, hundreds of lower-income children deepen their natural connection to the amazing animal kingdom with a rich Animal Studies program that includes lessons, books, animal visits, field trips, animal care and assemblies. Learning and caring for animals allows for our most vulnerable youth to make social, emotional and academic gains. We even have a Bereavement Support line for those pet owners struggling to cope with the passing of their furry companion.
Throughout his career, Dr. Earl Strimple, a Washington, D.C. veterinarian, witnessed the bond between animals and humans. He saw the potential benefits this bond could provide to families and founded People Animals Love in 1982 with a pilot program at a hospice, St. Francis Center. Dr. Strimple and the founder of St. Francis Center, Reverend William Wendt, saw the remarkable ability of pets to ease grief. This pilot program brought comfort to the newly bereaved, and as time passed, this effort expanded to additional sites and became the PAL Pet Visit Program. Today, more than 400 friendly dogs and their 400 friendly owners visit all across the metropolitan area. The program is growing steadily as PAL seeks and finds more and more friendly, calm dogs with big-hearted owners.
Another early effort of Dr. Strimple’s was to provide cats to prisoners at Lorton Prison. The offenders found healing in their own lives as they increased their compassion and empathy through loving their pets. During a veterinarian check up with a new cat owner, the prisoner passionately convinced Dr. Strimple that PAL needed to help DC children living in high poverty neighborhoods.
In response, PAL designed after-school and summer programs where the joy of engaging and learning about animals would benefit vulnerable youth. Children are naturally curious about animals, and captivated as they wonder, learn and explore — from spiders to kangaroos, caring for guinea pigs to releasing butterflies. Our students gain a mastery over a rich natural science vocabulary and learn how to protect our natural environment.
In 2009, PAL and Stanton Elementary School formed a partnership so that children who were struggling to succeed could receive more intensive, targeted help. That partnership deepened when Scholar Academies assumed leadership at the school. In 2016, PAL expanded to a second program at John Burroughs Elementary School. More than 350 children have been introduced to the magical animal kingdom through PAL Club every day. They also make reading, social and emotional gains through our applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum.
Thirty years after Dr. Strimple became infatuated with the human-animal bond, PAL has grown into a very prevalent organization that brings happiness and comfort to numerous individuals throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area. PAL’s Pet Visit Program has been growing since the day it began, allowing companionship to the lonely, comfort to the sick, and inspiration to our at-risk children. PAL Club has inspired ingenuity and creativity among our students, and created hopeful veterinarians for the future!