Our Mission

The Gabriel Institute is committed to bringing joy, happiness, comfort and healing to more people by increasing public awareness of pet-provided therapy. Our volunteer organization provides an accessible certification process that allows qualified therapy teams to provide effective pet-provided therapy services in their community. The purpose of the institute is to initiate and support research in the hope of finding a cure for bone cancer. Also, in honor and recognition of the extraordinary dedication of search-and-rescue, assistance, and police dogs, we are ready to assist service dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma by making it possible for them to receive cutting-edge therapies.

​Over 10,000 dogs succumb to osteosarcoma each year. It is our hope that the tools and knowledge we develop in trying to prolong the comfort and lives of our pets will ultimately benefit the 400 children in the U.S. that are diagnosed with this vicious disease every year. Toward this end, many of Gabriel's friends are already participating in the activities of the Jori Zemel Foundation.

How We Began

The Gabriel Institute was founded after our St. Bernard friend, Gabe gave us a dramatic introduction to canine osteosarcoma in January of 2007. Research to determine the best available treatment led to the realization that our 38 years of experience in designing and manufacturing components for delivering, sampling, and detecting trace components could be applied to devising equipment for localizing the delivery of concentrations of chemotherapeutic, radiochemical, and radiation therapies.

We have continued to support research for canine oncology research, and then another St. Bernard, Revilo's Gratitude a.k.a Toby, came into our lives. We soon discovered that Toby was born to be a therapy dog. With over 600 visits to his name, Toby has earned the AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished (THDD) title. And after seeing the joy, hope and happiness that Toby brought to people facing difficult health challenges in their lives, we decided to begin building a team of volunteers to help spread even more joy and create even more smiles. So we have added to our organization's mission to provide a framework and certification for people to provide pet therapy to others.

Though the Gabriel Institute is headquartered in Houston, Texas, we currently offer training and certification in Gig Harbor, WA. Our all-volunteer Board of Directors includes, Stan Stearns, Judy Stearns, and Julia Stearns. With over 50 years of raising and training St. Bernards, Stan Stearns also provides the training for prospective therapy dog teams.

Our Therapy Model

A therapy pet's primary function is to brighten someone's day. The majority of our members are involved in this social side of therapy work. Therapy pets and their handlers visit nursing homes and hospitals to provide emotional support. They put a smile on someone's face, make their day a little brighter, or help them remember the comfort and love of their own pets.

​Therapy animals are privately owned and visit facilities on a regular basis. All Gabriel Institute members are volunteers. We do not raise and train dogs to be service animals. At the end of a visit, these animals go home with their owners.