Latest News

Very Special Kids' therapy dog program funded by The Petspiration Foundation

The Petspiration Foundation announces two-year partnership with Very Special Kids

The Petspiration Foundation (formally PETstock Assist) has announced its latest long-term partnership with Victorian children’s charity, Very Special Kids.

The two-year partnership will see the sponsorship of the organisation’s therapy dog program and therapy dog, Jaffa, as part of the Foundation’s mission to strengthen the rewarding bond between people and pets.

Very Special Kids’ therapy dog program plays a critical role in providing children and young people with life-limiting conditions the best quality of life possible.

Jaffa, a Very Special Kids therapy dog

Jaffa joined the Very Special Kids team and therapy dog program full-time in February 2021, and this month celebrated her fifth birthday. The program aims to improve the overall wellbeing of seriously ill children and young people in Very Special Kids’ care through positive contact and interactions.

Jaffa is gentle, calming and highly intuitive, always ensuring that the children who need her most have her utmost attention. Jaffa is trained to help children turn the pages of their books and she offers children encouragement to initiate movement during their physiotherapy sessions.

Many children have been calmed off to sleep with Jaffa by their side, and she has also helped children reluctant to get out of bed, and encouraged them to take the leash and walk her up and down the path or onto the front lawn for a game of fetch.

Time spent with Jaffa can also be especially meaningful to a child who is missing their own pet back at home, bringing normality to children during their stay at the hospice.

Very Special Kids
Hospice Manager, Kirsty Blair, says the new funding from The Petspiration Foundation will allow Jaffa to continue providing much-needed support for children and young people during their palliative care journey.

“Therapy dogs, like Jaffa, help to create a relaxed environment in the hospice so children and young people can feel comfortable, settled and supported. She not only provides physical comfort to assist children in regulating their emotions when adapting to new and unfamiliar situations, but her interventions also provide pure joy.”

Kirsty adds, “Jaffa has also provided much-needed support to the children and families in our care throughout their end-of-life journey.

“The benefits of Very Special Kids’ therapy dog program extend beyond providing comfort to these children – inspiring moments of happiness and lasting memories – that their siblings, parents, and extended family members can hold onto forever.”

The Petspiration Foundation
’s Charity and Events Lead, Sherralea Cassidy, says the partnership will fund all resourcing costs to enable ongoing training and placement of therapy dog, Jaffa, with her very special clients.

“There are so many ways that animals can improve people’s lives and we are proud to be able to support like-minded organisations like Very Special Kids, and recognise the incredible work they have already carried out to make a positive impact on the lives of 850 families across Victoria,” says Sherralea.

“Providing emotional and physical support through pets is extremely powerful, and we know Jaffa, leading the therapy dog program, will be able to help provide even more seriously ill children and their families with the support they need in the future.”

This financial year, the Petspiration Foundation has dispersed more than $600,000 to organisations across the country, including support to Assistance Dogs Australia and Second Chance Animal Rescue. An additional $181,000 has been donated to flood related charities in 2022 to date.

About The Petspiration Foundation

The Petspiration Foundation (formally PETstock Assist) is a registered charity that exists to strengthen the rewarding bond between pets and people, empowering a better future for both. Through its partnerships and programs, the Foundation raises awareness and changes perceptions to make a positive impact today and leading change for a better future.

Since its inception in 2007, the Petspiration Foundation has raised more than $6.6 million, found homes for more than 13,000 rescue pets and donated more than $80,000 to support flood affected areas in 2022.

The Foundation is contributed to by the fundraising initiatives of all Petspiration brands, donations by business partners and employees as they come together for the pets that inspire us. 100% of funds raised go towards its charitable partners and projects with all operating costs covered by the business.

For more information on the Petspiration Foundation or to donate, please visit

About Very Special Kids

Very Special Kids provides holistic palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and tailored support for their families – through life, death and bereavement. Its integrated approach includes emotional, clinical and practical support to improve quality of life and create positive, lasting memories.
As Victoria’s only children’s hospice, its services support more than 850 families across Victoria.

For more information, please visit

MEDIA RELEASE, 28th November 2022

No comments

Post a Comment