In his veterinary practice in Washington DC in the early 1980s, Dr. Earl Strimple saw firsthand the importance and protective health effects of animal companionship for his clients. Observing these positive and powerful impacts, he was moved to create an organization that would bring animals and animal companionship to people who lacked access to human-animal interactions and the benefits of the human-animal bond, especially seniors in retirement homes, people with disabilities living in institutions, and people who were incarcerated. Dr. Strimple found support for his goals and vision from two of his clients, Reverend William Wendt, founder of the St. Francis Center (now the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing), and Georgetown University Trustee Sophie Engelhard, who lived with five canine companions. In 1982, Ms. Engelhard made a $20,000 contribution to the St. Francis Center to fund the start-up and initial projects of People Animals Love (“PAL”).
During the past forty years, there have been changes in PAL's programs, priorities, staff, volunteers, and community partners, but PAL’s mission has remained constant: to use the power of the human-animal bond to comfort the lonely, ease the pain of the sick, and enrich people’s lives.