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13 Ways to Celebrate National Therapy Animal Day

April 2, 2020

April 30 is National Therapy Animal Day, an event created by Pet Partners to recognize and celebrate our amazing therapy animal teams! National Therapy Animal Day has several goals:

  • Recognize and honor therapy animals for the amazing work they do.
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about the role therapy animals play in enhancing the health and well-being of humans.
  • Honor the thousands of dedicated handlers who volunteer their time and compassion to brighten the lives of those in their communities by sharing their therapy animals.

With National Therapy Animal Day right around the corner, we’ve got some excellent ways to commemorate the holiday! This year we’re facing unusual circumstances that may limit some ways we would typically celebrate. But therapy animals are still vitally important, and we can still find ways to celebrate the impact they have on their communities. Get started with your favorite ideas now to prepare for the best National Therapy Animal Day yet on April 30.

1. Spread the word on social media

Get the word out about the benefits of therapy animals to your friends near and far through social media! There are many ways to spread the word, and right now is an especially good time to be creative in how you share information about the human-animal bond. Here are some suggestions:

    • Write and post a story about a therapy animal visit that was especially meaningful for you.
    • If you’re a handler, share a cute picture of your therapy animal in their Pet Partners gear or on a visit.
    • If you’re someone who has benefitted from a therapy animal visit, you could share photos from your visit.
    • Make a video to talk about how being involved with therapy animals — whether as a handler, a client, a facility staff member, or a practitioner — has been important to you.
    • Use creative ways to express your love for therapy animals! Drawings, paintings, collages, cards, and animation are just some of the ways you can show how therapy animals have been important to you. This can be an especially appealing way for kids to participate; maybe they’d like to draw pictures of the animals they read to during Read With Me visits.

Whatever you choose to post, make sure to tag Pet Partners and include the #NationalTherapyAnimalDay and #PetPartners hashtags so we can share your post.

2. Hold a virtual visit

Dog on a laptop reaching out to hold a person's hand. Photo by Daniel Frank from PexelsEven if you can’t be there in person, you can still take advantage of technology to connect therapy animals and people who can benefit. You could email photos or videos of your therapy animal to the facilities you work with, or post them on social media for the facility to share. Facilities could try connecting with therapy animals through video chat or remote meeting software, giving everyone the chance to interact face to face, even if not in person.
We’ll also have virtual visit videos to share through a special Facebook group; you can share videos of your therapy animal there, view available videos, and share videos with people who’d like to have some of the benefits of a therapy animal visit right now. Check our Facebook page for more details.

3. Tell your local media about therapy animals

Get in touch with a local news station or newspaper to share a story about how a therapy animal team has affected your life, whether through being a therapy animal handler bringing your pet’s love to your community, or as someone who has benefited from a therapy animal visit. Everyone loves a feel-good story, especially when it shows how animals are helping people, and this is a great opportunity to spread awareness about the benefits of the human-animal bond in your community. We have a letter to the editor template you can use to contact your local media. You can also tag local media outlets in your social media posts.

4. Watch and share our inspirational video

Telling a story is one of the best ways to demonstrate the power of the human-animal bond, and we have a great one. Watch our video, Improving Health, with Jack’s story. Jack was diagnosed with cancer and was facing a scary time; a family friend and her dog became a Pet Partners therapy animal team to support Jack and his family through his treatment. This inspiring story shows how vital therapy animals are in supporting the health of people going through treatment, and also their families. Sharing this video is another way you can help celebrate the amazing therapy animals and their dedicated handlers who serve their communities.

5. Make April 30 National Therapy Animal Day where you live

Raise awareness on a local level by working with your local officials to officially proclaim April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day in your city, county, or state. This can be a way of highlighting how important therapy animals are to your community. We’ve done the hard part for you – just customize and present this sample proclamation!

6. Organize a Treats & Sweets event

Pet Partners teams make the world a better place every day. By participating in Treats & Sweets Day, you can bake a difference, too! Find everything you need to create a winning Treats & Sweets setup all spring on the Treats & Sweets Day website. We’ve got several ideas for ways you can hold Treats & Sweets events virtually and safely. If baking isn’t your thing, you can still support bakers and baking teams by visiting the website and taking part in their fundraisers. It’s the sweetest way to support therapy animals.

7. Read a book

Our Read With Me initiative helps children improve literacy and reading skills. National Therapy Animal Day is a great opportunity to read with a child and a pet. This year, when in-person events aren’t an option for most people, you could consider doing your reading as a “virtual visit” through a video chat program. We’re launching a special campaign, We Are All Ears, encouraging children to make a pledge that they will read to pets at home; check out our Facebook page for more details.
You might also consider doing some reading to improve your knowledge of AAI and therapy animal best practices — here are a few suggestions:

8. Get some retail therapy

National Therapy Animal Day t-shirtTreat yourself to some Pet Partners merch to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day in style. Our online store has bandannas and vests for your therapy animal, as well as clothing and accessories for people, giving you another way to demonstrate your support for therapy animals. You can also order our limited-edition National Therapy Animal Day shirt, with a special design celebrating Pet Partners teams all over the world. Shirts come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes, and are available for order through April 7.

9. Continue to learn about therapy animals

Pet Partners offers continuing education courses as part of our commitment to being the gold standard in therapy animal programs. National Therapy Animal Day is an excellent opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge as a handler, or to learn more about important procedures and best practices for anyone working with therapy animals. Course topics include infection prevention and control (very relevant right now!), canine body language, and working with veterans and people with Alzheimer’s. Visit our Online Education page for more info.

10. Start the process to register as a Pet Partners volunteer

If you aren’t already part of a registered Pet Partners therapy team, there’s no time like the present! National Therapy Animal Day is the perfect time to start your journey towards changing the lives of others through the human-animal bond. Even during stay at home orders, prospective therapy animal handlers can start a registration, begin working on your education, and work with your pet on skills they’ll need to be successful as a therapy animal. You can learn more and start the process on our website.

11. Thank your favorite therapy animal

Humans aren’t the only ones who deserve to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day! If you’re a handler, show your appreciation to your therapy animal with some special treats or a new activity to keep them mentally and physically stimulated (especially right now, when most teams aren’t able to visit). If therapy animals have made a difference in your life, you could make a thank-you card or record a special video message and post to social media.

12. Honor our therapy animals who have left us

Our Therapy Animal Program would not be where it is today without our past volunteer therapy animal teams. The work of our teams is the heart of our mission, and their efforts in their communities are what brings the human-animal bond to people.
We know how valuable the contributions are of every Pet Partners therapy animal, and we make sure to honor our therapy animals who have retired or passed on. Take a few moments to read about the impact past teams have had on the lives of those they visited and worked with, and be inspired by the power of the human-animal bond.

13. Sign up to be an advocate

National Therapy Animal Day is all about advocating for our field – but it shouldn’t end after April 30! Our advocacy platform helps educate lawmakers and other decision-makers about therapy animals, the importance of standards, and ways to increase access to therapy animals. Sign up to become a Pet Partners advocate and get alerts and information about how you can make a difference year-round.

If you’d like some other ideas, check out our Facebook Live session from April 1, 2020 for additional information and more suggestions on ways you can make National Therapy Animal Day a great celebration of therapy animals and the power of the human-animal bond.

Do you have a creative way to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day? Tell us about it!

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