Lisa Gray, Scrat and Ron Branning

Lisa Gray, Scrat and Ron Branning share time together.

Provides patients with pet care, advance planning for animals


TAVARES — Ron Branning was not sure what would happen to his beloved dog Scrat when the time came that he would no longer be able to care for him. The Mount Dora man, who recently came under the care of Cornerstone Hospice, was distressed by the possibility of having to euthanize the little dog to keep him from ending up in a bad home or a shelter. Branning’s Cornerstone care team had a better solution. 

For 10 years, Cornerstone Pet Peace of Mind (PPOM) has been an important part of the comprehensive and compassionate care for patients. 

PPOM was introduced because of the belief that hospice patients and their beloved furry family members should be together for as long as possible. Cornerstone volunteers visit with patients to walk the dogs, change litter boxes and even take animals to the veterinarian or groomer. 

Additionally, Cornerstone staff meet with patients to discuss the care plan for the pets once they are gone. Patients and their families are encouraged to identify loving homes for the animals thereby giving the humans peace of mind knowing their pet will be cared for. 

Cornerstone Hospice joined the national Pet Peace of Mind program in June 2011 becoming the first Florida hospice organization to offer these specialized services. 

“We know that hospice patients live better lives when they are surrounded by those they love, including furry or feathered family members,” said Lisa Gray, Cornerstone Pet Peace of Mind Coordinator. “We are grateful for dedicated volunteers who help keep patients and their pets together and to the generous donors who make it possible for us to provide food, medication and other care for the pets when their owners cannot.” 

Believing he would benefit from Cornerstone PPOM, Branning’s nurse asked Lisa Gray to meet with him to assess his needs for caring for Scrat and to help identify a better long-term plan for the dog.

Gray, a passionate animal lover who had recently lost one of her dogs, went to Branning’s house and was amazed at the resemblance Scrat has to her beloved little Faith. She reviewed the Cornerstone Pet Planning Guide with him and told him she would be back to visit. 

“It was like love at first sight for them. I can tell he loves her so much,” said Branning. “He is the most important thing in my life. I want Lisa to have that thrill that I had, holding him close.” 

A few days later, Gray and Branning signed the Pet Peace of Mind paperwork allowing her to adopt Scrat. After being hospitalized a couple of times, Branning now lives in a Eustis nursing facility. Gray brings Scrat to visit with him weekly and the two take turns nuzzling the little dog and giving him treats. 

“Scrat gets really excited when he gets to see his dad but is happy to have someone else who loves to snuggle with him and take him for rides and walks,” said Gray. “I have assisted many patients with their pets since Cornerstone Hospice implemented the national Pet Peace of Mind Program. 




Cornerstone Hospice’s Pet Peace of Mind Planning Guide is tool for any pet owners to use to develop an Advance Directive for their animals. The guide is available by emailing 

Additionally, Cornerstone Hospice seeks PPOM volunteers to assist patients across its Central Florida and North Georgia region. For information about volunteering, email or call 866-742-6655. Monetary donations to help patients in need to be able to keep their pets with them can be made at 




Cornerstone Hospice is a leading community-owned provider of end-of-life care in Central Florida and North Georgia. For more information, to donate, or to volunteer, call 866-742-6655 or visit 

Nanci Schwartz is the media contact person. She can be reached at:


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