Twin Falls, Idaho, April 10, 2006 — The Skeeter Foundation today announced that it has secured funding to revitalize its mission as a non-profit pet foundation. This announcement follows an infusion of initial funding by GF&C Holding Company, the parent of General Fire & Casualty the underwriting insurance company for Pets Best insurance pet insurance plans. Additionally, Greg McDonald, chairman of GF&C Holding Company made a sizeable donation, assisting the funding of the charitable institution which has been dormant for the past two years.
The Skeeter Foundation was created in 2000 by Dr. Jack Stephens, with his companion Skeeter as its inspiration and spokes-pet. The foundation’s mission was then, and is now, to demonstrate that companion pets make us healthier, thus the mission of “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills” to promote the human-animal bond. The foundation’s major activities provide support for pet therapy teams, which are groups of volunteers who visit hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and schools with their certified therapy pets.
“The human-animal bond is one of the strongest, most life-affirming relationships we can have,” said Dr. Stephens. “Pets have the power to positively affect our physical, emotional and mental well-being. With the newly rejuvenated Skeeter Foundation, we intend to provide financial and educational backing to validate and promote this special connection and its value to society. In addition, the Foundation plans to carry on its funding of scientific studies that measure the physiological and psychological benefits of pet companionship and other pet or animal-related causes.”
The Skeeter Foundation has previously contributed an endowment for funding important studies that have provided convincing evidence that quiet interaction with a pet is good for humans by positively impacting our body chemistry. It seems that contact with animals is rooted in our biology, through the eons of human development, as a potent stress reliever. The Foundation is planning a series of special Internet contests, where pet owners can celebrate the joy of companion animals, as well as other activities during 2006 to raise additional financial support and to increase awareness of how pets positively impact our lives.
In past years, the Skeeter Foundation has contributed an endowment to the University of Missouri Veterinary College and Nursing School to fund an important study that measures hormones and other chemicals that our bodies produce while interacting with a dog, without a dog and with a robotic dog. These studies have preliminarily validated the Skeeter Foundation’s mission of “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills,” by demonstrating through scientific measurement that, while interacting with a pet, “good hormones” and body chemicals increase and other “hormones and chemicals” such as cortisol that, in excess, can be bad for humans, decrease.
Skeeter, no ordinary canine companion, has a long list of accomplishments from his tenure with the Skeeter Foundation and before:
- He is the first canine to be a featured commencement speaker at the University of Missouri and Texas A&M Veterinary schools. At Texas A&M Skeeter received a rare standing ovation at the conclusion of a speech by Dr. Stephens.
- Skeeter holds an honorary DVM degree from the University of Missouri.
- He served as co-speaker/barker with Dr. Stephens at a National Cancer Day event at a leading hospital. The Topic was: The importance of Pets in the Healing Process.
- He has been a sought-after guest on cable and network news shows and pet talk programs.
- He has made numerous therapy visits, including several on Christmas day, to brighten the lives of numerous individuals.
- He assisted and inspired Dr. Stephens to found Pets Best, underwritten by General Fire & Casualty Company,
“Simply the Best Pet Insurance.”
The primary goal of the Skeeter Foundation is to educate people and support programs that endorse the “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills” philosophy. Named in honor of one of the founder’s Dr. Jack Stephens’ animal companions, the Skeeter Foundation was formed to perpetuate the proven positive effects that pets have on human health.
One of the Skeeter Foundation’s principle activities is to develop and support volunteer therapy teams comprising a variety of pets that bring joy and relieve stress into people’s lives. Pets are mostly certified dogs that have passed rigorous training. Others include cats, rabbits, miniature horses and even a llama. Pets eligible for the Rx teams must have a gentle disposition, and be patient with and tolerant of strangers. The Foundation provides consultative and administrative support to the Rx teams, as well as liability insurance, which is required by visited institutions.