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Donations needed to support animal-assisted therapy this September

Big Hearts needed to raise $350,000 for Petstock Foundation’s animal therapy services

This September, the Petstock Foundation’s Big Hearts Project is highlighting the positive impact of animal-assisted services and the important role therapy animals have in empowering a better future for the people who need them.

Animal-assisted therapy, a form of therapy that incorporates animals such as dogs and horses to help people manage and overcome physical and mental health conditions, is especially close to the Petstock Foundation’s heart. 

Since 2007, The Foundation has raised over $10 million for its charity partners, enabling many to continue work in this space, including Guide Dogs Australia, Animal Therapies Limited, Assistance Dogs Australia, Very Special Kids, Smart Pups, HorsePower and Riding for the Disabled Association - S.A.

Now, the Petstock Foundation - the charity arm of the Petstock Group - is highlighting the positive impact therapy animals can have on people experiencing mental health conditions and physical or intellectual disability. This comes as charities are reporting growing waitlists and an increase in demand for their services [1]. 

Research has shown that people who undertook animal assisted therapy with dogs experienced reduced feelings of anxiety and loneliness [2], and horses also provided therapeutic effects including improved postural control [3], important for people who suffer from conditions that affect mobility.

With 60% of Australians living with a disability requiring support to complete 10 or more activities for daily living [4], and autism spectrum disorder affecting 1 in 70 Australians [5], assistance animals are another way of helping people with disabilities better access public life. Providing training for one therapy animal can cost more than $60,000, and hundreds of hours, and is often only possible thanks to the generosity and big hearts of those who choose to donate to organisations like the Petstock Foundation.

The Big Hearts Project aims to raise over $350,000 for animal-assisted programs most in need, through a dedicated donation program with the help of animal lovers across the country who are able to spare some change.

“Therapy Dogs provide comfort, support, and companionship through facilities like courts, hospitals and schools, as well as to individuals and families with more specific needs,” Guide Dogs Therapy Dogs Coordinator Samantha O’Keeffe said.
“Evidence supports the positive impact Therapy Dogs have, which is why we have seen an increase in demand for these services.
“We’re grateful for the support of the Petstock Foundation’s Big Hearts Project, which will help us make a difference to the lives of more people.”

Operations Lead for The Petstock Foundation, Sherralea Cassidy, says, “Seeing the unparalleled impact that animals can have on the lives of people suffering from mental illness, disability and disease is a key driver in the Petstock Foundation's work and our commitment to supporting animal-assisted therapy programs. Together with our customers we are taking action and leading change for a better future.”

“Assistance animals can help with anxiety and improve self-confidence, as well as provide mobility support and freedom to those with physical limitations. Having independence in everyday life is important for the mental health of many people that the Petstock Foundation works to support.

There has been encouraging progress in the understanding of assistance animals for those in need, but we still have more to do - for example making workplaces more accepting and accessible for assistance animals would provide more employment options for people who require an assistance animal each day.”

When individuals and families approach charities seeking help from animal-assisted services, it is often the last option available, and they are often coming from the lowest point in their life. With the cost of living continuing to rise, the impact of the financial crisis will be felt the most by people who are already facing hardship and require support.

Sherralea continues, “Many not-for-profits are experiencing an increase in demand for their services, putting added pressure on organisations already struggling to keep up. Worryingly, donations are also down as people are understandably spending more carefully. It’s more important than ever to donate where you can, and we’re encouraging Australians and animal lovers to open their hearts and support the wonderful work The Petstock Foundation’s partner animal therapy charities do day in, day out.

“With a mission to raise $350,000 during the Big Hearts Project in September, we’re asking people to give anything they can - whether its by rounding up your purchase or donating a gold coin, all funds financially benefit animal-assisted services, enabling them to continue to focus on the very important work they do to provide the best outcomes for each individual's needs. 

In June, our Home Town Heroes campaign exceeded fundraising targets, allowing us to distribute $106,000 to 53 localised charities nationwide,” says Sherralea.

What donations will go towards:

✔️ 100% of funds raised by the Petstock Foundation and animal lovers through Petstock stores nationwide in September will be donated to the Big Hearts Project charity partners to enable them to create a better future for pets and people.

✔️ Fundraising programs like the Big Hearts Projects initiative allows animal-assisted therapy groups to grow and more effectively deliver greater services to the people that are most in need.

✔️ Funds will also be used to support grants and partnerships for future programs and/or organisations within the animal-assisted services sector.

How you can help:
  • Throughout September, by rounding up purchases at Petstock stores nationwide or by donating online.
  • In an effort to raise as many funds as possible for the Big Hearts Project, donations made during the Matching Weekend (September 16 and 17) will be doubled by the Petstock Foundation to bolster donations*.
  • Purchase a participating product throughout September with a portion of the funds going towards the Big Hearts Project.
  • Purchase a Petstock Foundation product throughout September with a portion of the funds going towards the Big Hearts Project.
  • Visit your local Petstock store to support your local community or visit for more information – 100% of funds raised goes to our purpose!
* The Petstock Foundation will double the first $50,000 AUD in donations made between 16 September 2023 - 17 September 2023 or until the available pool of funds is exhausted.

[5] Autism Spectrum Australia: Autism prevalence rate up by an estimated 40% to 1 in 70 people

About the Big Hearts Project

The Petstock Foundation’s Big Hearts Project leads change for the pets and people that inspire us. We provide our customers with the opportunity to make a positive impact where it is needed by reminding them about opportunities to give and what we do as a Foundation. The 2023 campaign focuses on our work within the animal-assisted therapy area.

About the Petstock Foundation

The Petstock Foundation is a registered charity that exists to empower a better future for pets and people. Since its inception in 2007, The Foundation has raised more than $10 million to date and has found homes for more than 20,000 rescue pets. Petstock Foundation is contributed to by the fundraising initiatives of all Petstock Group, donations by business partners and team members as they come together for the pets that inspire them. 100% of funds raised go towards The Foundation to support its charitable partners and projects with all operating costs covered by the business.

MEDIA RELEASE, 29th August 2023

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