World’s Largest Pet Walk takes over Tucson

click to enlarge World’s Largest Pet Walk takes over Tucson
(Submitted Photo)
Pet Partners hosts this year’s fifth annual World’s Largest Pet Parade.

Tucson and many other cities around the United States will participate in the fifth annual World’s Largest Pet Walk to benefit Pet Partners on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Founded in the 1970s, Pet Partners is a nonprofit that helps people through the love of animals. They register dog handlers to serve as a team to visit various communities to assist patients, including those in recovery, those who have intellectual disabilities and seniors with Alzheimer’s.

Every year, Pet Partners hosts this event to raise funds and awareness for its therapy animal program. In Tucson, the Pet Partners of Southern Arizona is working hard to exceed its goals. They’re expecting a huge turnout.

“The idea is to interact with your animal, have a good time, and you’re doing it for a good cause,” said Diane Alexander, a Tucson walker and community coordinator for the Tucson partners.

“People will group based on where they are geographically. We encourage that or even walking with family members. However, they want to do it.”

The walk does not have a set location and wants people to have that quality time with their four-legged friends.

“We’re in four counties as the Pet Partners of Southern Arizona, so you can walk wherever you like, however you like. If your dog is not a walker and you want to play ball in the backyard or just hang out on the couch together and watch some college football that day, that’s great.”

Pet Partners’ goal is to raise $100,000. So far, the Pet Partners of Southern Arizona team has raised 177% of its goal of fundraising $1,500 with a total of just over $2,600.

“Fundraising efforts have been pretty good so far. We had a goal of $1,500 for the community partner, and I’m really pleased about where we are at. I think as we get closer, we’ll even top that, and it would be great to hit $3,000.”

Donations go directly toward helping get therapy dogs trained and out into the world.

“When people donate, it means that they understand that there is a financial need to keep the program going and to maintain the quality of the program that we have,” Alexander said.

“I teach our handlers workshop along with another instructor, and in going through all of that material, it reinforces for me how strong this organization is in terms of its research, its development of programs, its development of teams, and its working with the human-animal bond that takes money to keep it going. This is not a program with glamorous buildings or highly paid executives; The money goes back to the program, and that’s what is important to me.”

Alexander has been involved with the nonprofit since 2011. Around the time she started, she became a team with Ella, a standard poodle dog.

“I have a good friend who’s had a long career in behavioral health,” Alexander said. “When I adopted Ella from Arizona Poodle Rescue, my friend came to meet her. Ella is very interactive with people, loves being with people, and has this wonderful demeanor about her. Because of her experience, my friend said Ella would make a great therapy dog.”

Ella is retired after working with Alexander as a therapy dog and has a new mini Australian labradoodle sister, Bindi. Both are registered to walk with Alexander for this month’s event. It is Bindi’s first time participating with Alexander.

World’s Largest Pet Walk

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 24

Anytime; any location

INFO: petpartners.org/wlpw

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