National Therapy Animal Day 2020: Celebrating at a Distance

As we prepared to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day this year, everyone was faced with a challenge: How do we celebrate the power of therapy animals in the midst of a pandemic? With stay at home orders and social isolation policies in place due to COVID-19, most therapy animal visits aren’t possible in many places.

National Therapy Animal Day Logo

Fortunately, Pet Partners volunteers are creative and dedicated, and they were determined to find ways to celebrate their therapy animals and the power of the human-animal bond. While celebrations had to be physically distant in most cases, many people found ways to demonstrate why therapy animals are so important and celebrate the work done by therapy animal teams. We’ve put together a roundup of many of the efforts to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day despite the circumstances.

Pet Partners of Arizona worked with the Governor’s office on a declaration making April 30 National Therapy Animal Day statewide. And several Phoenix-area therapy animal teams joined a local morning news show to educate people about what therapy animals do.

Many of our therapy animal teams shared beautiful photos and heartfelt stories about how important their work is to them and their communities:

  • Lori Wright shared some thoughts about her experiences visiting with miniature dachshund Luna and how it has affected her life as well as clients.

  • Patti Betti talked about how golden retriever Zest supports critical care patients at the hospital where they normally visit.
  • Tiffany Melba and alpaca Adele talked about how much they’re enjoying the experience.
  • Marsha Zimmerman and standard poodle Jake sent good wishes to the students at Syracuse University and mentioned how much they miss their visits.
  • Sara Muckenhaupt wrote movingly about the impact her guinea pig LP has on the people they visit.

Pet Partners of Southern California teams Lara Clear & Dakota and Fanny Karpman & Gracie held a live event on Instagram to talk about why they love being therapy animal handlers and the importance of their visits.

Staff of Tootin’ Hills Elementary School in Connecticut joined with Pet Partners team Marilyn Douglas & Beau to make a special video message for students and teachers, celebrating the importance of therapy animals in supporting reading, and highlighting our We Are All Ears worldwide reading project.

Pet Partners HQ hosted a special live event on Facebook to talk about the work done by therapy animal teams. Evalutor/Instructor Support Specialist (and former therapy cat handler) Moira Smith was joined by Steve Fontenot & Kassia Kubena-Fontenot with therapy husky Bellin; Tracy Howell & therapy cat Roger Sterling; and Abby Chesnut & therapy rat Franklin.

And Pet Partners teams in Minnesota coordinated a wonderful video with multiple handlers showing appreciation for their therapy animals and cheering for National Therapy Animal Day.

While we have a day specifically to honor therapy animals each year, we know that for therapy animal teams and the facilities, clients, and students they serve, every day is a good day to celebrate therapy animals. Our teams continue to find ways to connect with people however they can during this extraordinary time, demonstrating that animal-related engagement can help even when therapy animals can’t be physically present. And we know that when in-person visits are possible again, Pet Partners teams will be there to support their communities and bring the healing effects of therapy animals to everyone who can benefit.