How PetSmart Charities is enhancing lives through animal-assisted therapy

Friday, May 25, 2018


For years, PetSmart Charities’ primary focus was to help pets find lifelong, loving homes through adoption.  While this continues to be a goal the organization works to achieve, it also recognizes the human-animal bond and the positive effects that pets have on the lives of people, especially those in need.  The unconditional love, support and comfort that pets provide in times of crisis or transition is unlike any other.  What can seem like a miracle is really just the effects of the human-animal bond.

The rising popularity of animal-assisted therapy programs within hospital systems of all size is a testament to the value of the human-animal bond and just how powerful it can be.

Animal-assisted therapy provides a welcomed diversion from anxiety-inducing tests and procedures, giving patients and their families a sense of security and normalcy while away from home.  And it is not limited to the patients and their families.  Something as simple as an affectionate nuzzle or a wag of a tail can decrease stress and anxiety for the hospital staff – doctors, nurses and administrative professionals - who witness and often internalize the trials and tribulations of their patients.  A trained therapy team provides welcome relief and comfort to the whole hospital environment.

Since 2012, PetSmart and PetSmart Charities have committed nearly $4 million in grants to support animal-assisted therapy programs at hospitals across North America.  Most recently, PetSmart Charities committed grants to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and Orlando Health to help expand and enhance their respective pet therapy programs.  Because it is such an effective adjunct to the life-saving care each hospital is known to provide, PetSmart Charities’ grants will enhance the lives of future patients, families and staff members by supporting the therapy teams bring and the unconditional love that each of these programs offers through the healing power of animals.

In 2016, PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, expanded its mission to support programs that bring people and pets together. This new mission allows the organization to support nonprofits that help connect people and pets in impactful ways. The “Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Pets” grant category, open July 2 through July 31 for applications, supports programs that train pets to become service animals for military veterans or people with disabilities and for pet therapy programs at places such as hospitals, schools, and senior homes. 

To learn more about PetSmart Charities’ commitment to helping pets and people in need, please visit