About Pets Together
Who are we?
Traditionally, pet visits in group settings are reserved for therapy dog programs with strict regulations. One of the benefits of our program is that it allows for a wide range of participants and volunteers. Since our visits are virtual, we’re able to provide visits from dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, goats, chickens…and the occasional guinea pig. Our volunteers are a diverse group, hailing from all across the country.
What do we do?
We use Zoom and other video conferencing software to chat with individuals and groups. Each visit lasts about 30 minutes and features 6 volunteers with their pets. You never know exactly which animals will be on a call, which makes it fun! Our volunteers use their conversations about their pets to make a connection with the audience.
Who’s it for?
Pets Together virtual pet visits are available to those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, residential treatment programs (e.g., behavioral health, rehabilitation), inpatient/ outpatient medical centers (e.g., hospitals, cancer centers), and other group settings. We are also happy to work with libraries, camps, and school reading programs.
Why is it important?
Social isolation and loneliness affect people who have few social contacts and lack an overall sense of belonging. It disproportionately affects older adults, who are often marginalized in our society. Research shows that isolation can result in a premature mortality risk comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day and even surpassing the influence of obesity and physical activity.
Pets Together President
Jennifer Bashford lives in the North Carolina mountains with her 5 special needs rescue dogs and her husband. She holds master’s degrees in both public policy and gerontology and has been involved in non-profit management for over ten years. Working with Pets Together is the perfect blend of all of her passions. When she isn’t on a Zoom call with a long term care facility, you can usually find her hiking or kayaking with one of her dogs.