Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson. It’s a beautiful Sunday and the Old Pueblo, such a fall in the air, and I want to thank you for spending part of your brunch are with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station. This week, we discussed the healing power of pets and a Second Saturday event coming up to get you more acquainted with an organization called Pet Partners.
Tom Heath: Each and every Sunday, our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on DowntownRadio.org. Also available on your iPhone or Android by using our Downtown Radio app. Just head over to your Google Play or the Apple Store and download Downtown Radio Tucson. If you want to get us on the show, our email address is [email protected]. You can interact with us on Facebook at Life Along the Streetcar and follow us on Twitter at Streetcar Life.
Tom Heath: Well today is September 29th. It’s the last Sunday of September. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar. If you want to get us here on the show, our email address is contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org you can interact with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and we start today with an opportunity to care.
Tom Heath: In about a month on October 25th and 26th., the United Way will mark their 2019 year of a days of caring. This is a two day event where you can volunteer to help improve your community. They do this one project at a time last year. They had about 4,200 years and this year is a big big one form over a hundred events scheduled. They’re all over the city. If you’re focused on the urban core, there’s things at the children’s museum, Mission Garden, there’s things around Dunbar Pavilion and there’s a few others will post to it after the show there, but you can go to United Way Tucson.org to register for any of those events.
Tom Heath: We’re giving you a little bit of notice even though it’s a month away because these spots do fill up. And I registration closes on October 21st. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to share a very specific and special project. We’ve kind of hinted about in the Barrio Viejo neighborhood. A mural is a part of the United Way days of carrying so we’ll share more with you in a few weeks about that. But if you want to help out across the city if you want to help out a Mission Garden, Children’s Museum do a little trash pickup a little painting maybe help out at a senior center head over to United Way Tucson.org and then there you can just track into the days of caring it’s their 20th year doing that and from what I hear they have a big slate of opportunities. On your plate there.
Tom Heath: But do you believe in the healing power of pets? If not, our next feature just might change your mind according to their website pet partners is founded on a belief that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial relationship. It improves physical social and emotional lives and pet partners is motivated the volunteers and staff are motivated by connection compassion and a commitment to sharing this meaningful bond.
Tom Heath: The co-founder of this organization, which is over 40 years old. So the co-founder of this. Dr. Michael McCulloch believes that in this era of Medicine with prescriptions technology all kinds of modern research. It’s according to him quote. It’s refreshing to find that a person’s health and well-being may be improved by prescribing contact with other living things well until recently. Pet partners was an National actually.
Tom Heath: It’s an international organization. But here in the United States was really held by the power was held at a national level with Community groups supporting them throughout each and every state recently. They expanded in four states creating a local presence a little larger real presence with an Advisory Board and a larger staff and Arizona was one of those States selected. So we had a chance to sit down with the executive director here of the Arizona branch of Pet Partners Ashley Drew and an Advisory Board member Tony Ray Baker to find out about the organization the effort here locally and the impact on Tucson.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: My name is Ashley Drew and I am the executive director of Pet Partners of Arizona and I’m Tony Ray Baker and I am on The Advisory board for pet partners.
Tom Heath: So actually let’s start with with it just kind of an idea of what pet partners is as an organization.
Ashley Drew: Sure, we’re a nonprofit organization and our mission is to improve People’s Health and well-being through the human animal Bond and this is a an organization has been in existence for some time. Correct. We’ve been a National Organization for over 40 years and there’s been local community groups known as Community Partners where volunteers get together and kind of organized to raise awareness and bring teams together and Pet Partners of Arizona is brand-new.
Ashley Drew: We are one of four pilot chapters that were opened in April of this year to start bringing a local nonprofit presence to the community.
Tom Heath: How did you find your way to be the executive director here?
Ashley Drew: Sure. I’ve been in non-profit for over 14 years and I was at a point in my career where I was looking for another opportunity. And when I saw that they were going to be opening a new chapter and they were looking for somebody with experience from starting from the ground up for building. That’s kind of where my expertise is. And so I figured it was a really good Fit Plus. I love animals. I was raised with horses, dogs, cats. So it just made perfect sense for me.
Tom Heath: Then let’s talk about the animals. So there you you work with therapy animals. Can you can’t get a definition of what that is because it’s a little different than what some people might be thinking with other type of assist support animals.
Tom Heath: Absolutely. So the difference between therapy animals service animals and emotional support is service and emotional support only serve their owner. So it’d be a seeing eye dog or a service dog. Whereas therapy animals are persons. Personal pet that has a large amount of love to give and has makes everybody feel better. And so that animal goes into the community to serve many.
Tom Heath: How does that work is pet partners and responsible for the training of that animal and that owner? How does that come to be?
Ashley Drew: People who have an animal that they think would be great for therapy work. Let’s start with dogs for example dogs that want to be therapy dog should have basic obedience because they’ll go through an evaluation which would be a live in person test with their owner or they’ll have to do some basic tasks such as Sit Stay a walk on a leash right in line with their owner.
Tom Heath: And and then from that point they have the basic skills, then the organization helps to develop them more into what you would consider a therapy animal?
Ashley Drew: Well, so the Handler goes through a test, which is a handlers course we can which can take eight hours in person or you can do it online which it can take anywhere from three to four hours depending on how quickly you get through the classes. Once you complete your handlers course you then look for an evaluation in your area which can be found on our Resource Center.
Ashley Drew: If you go to PetPartners.org create a username and password and then you can get in and see what kind of evaluations are in your area. And then you would schedule the evaluation and then you would go and take it you can also download the evaluation so that you know exactly what’s going to be asked of you and your animal, for example, I’m going to register my Sphinx, which is a hairless cat. And so the cat evaluation is very different than the dog evaluation because I’ll be holding the cat and so there’s different scenarios that I would go through in order to get my score where you either get a pass or a not ready. And then from there you submit your paperwork you get your name tags, you make trading cards and then you’re able to serve whoever you’re passionate about in the community.
Tom Heath: What are some of those organizations in that are served?
Ashley Drew: So we serve everybody, which is great. You know, we go to retirement facilities we go to all the major hospitals we go to the VA and we also go to Davis-Monthan. We go to schools and libraries, you know, we go to events. We’re going to be at Tucson Pride this weekend and then second Saturday, which we’ll talk about a little bit later.
Ashley Drew: So we also support other local nonprofits, which is really neat because you won’t find often that most nonprofits help other nonprofits, but we work with emerge with victims of DV we work. Casa de los, Ninos we work with many other folks here in the valley. And so we’re very excited to find other organizations that we can partner with as well.
Tom Heath: And you said the the the owner of the dog has some say and where the owner of the animal has some say in where they end up.
Ashley Drew: Yeah, because they’re just like every person is different every animal is different. So whatever they’re comfortable with may not be the same as everybody else and it’s dogs and hairless cats those the only things that came is that correct? No great question.
Ashley Drew: So Pet Partners is the only registering therapy animal program that registers nine different species the other ones out. Sorry. Let me back up other nonprofits that register therapy animals only do dogs, but we do dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, regular pigs, rats, llamas, alpacas, horses, miniature horses. And did I say rats? Yeah, you said rats.
Tom Heath: Do you have a lot of therapy rats right now?
Ashley Drew: We actually I have our numbers. We don’t have any rats registered in Arizona, but we own birds. That was the other one. I forgot. We do have one bird registered in Arizona, and I want to talk about the bird because it doesn’t your parrot help children read is that yeah, buddy, we do. So we have a read with me program where we go into schools and libraries to help kids with their literacy some children.
Ashley Drew: I mean as you can imagine when you’re first learning to read out loud, you might not know how to pronounce the word and so you stutter you get embarrassed when you read to a dog or to a bird that therapy animal doesn’t judge you if you don’t know what the word is and they just follow along and enjoy you either petting them or talking to them. And so we’ve had a lot of really great success with that program.
Tom Heath: That was Ashley Drew. She is the executive director of pet partners Arizona with location up in Phoenix and one here in Southern Arizona talking. The history of the organization how she came to it and we’ll be back in just a moment after the break talking about an upcoming event on second Saturday and we’ll also hear from Advisory Board member Tony Ray Baker about his decision to join pet partners.
Tom Heath: Now, I want to remind you that you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org. Well. If you’re just joining us, we’re going to finish up our interview with Ashley Drew executive director of pet partners, Arizona, and we also have Advisory Board member Tony Ray Baker in the interview.
Tom Heath: We’re going to hear from Tony Ray right as we head back from the break about his connection with the organization and they’re going to share with us an event on 2nd Saturday that’s going to happen in downtown. Right in front of the Tierra Antigua office at 216 East Congress.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: But Tony Ray you are not in the nonprofit world. But how did you find your way to a Partner’s?
Tony Ray: A friend actually just point-blank asked me if I’d be involved and I didn’t know what it was about. I never heard of it and the minute the word pet and animals were mentioned. Of course my ears perked because I love I have two dogs and I’ve always loved the relationship I have with the animals I’ve always had in. So I said, yeah, I’m interested in hearing more and it was just a no-brainer for me.
Tony Ray: It took about five minutes of conversation to find out what the what Partners does and what they bring to our community and it was just such a perfect fit for me that just it’s one of those moments where I just didn’t even think twice about it. I just said, yes
Tom Heath: You are on the Advisory board or are you also as your are your dogs trained?
Tony Ray: No, actually, we have a puppy and she is not alone. How to become a therapy animal till she’s one so she is patiently waiting and her name is Bailey and we plan on putting her through training soon to get her prepped up to see if she’ll actually make it through training.
Tony Ray: They have to be the right dog. And I don’t know that she will or will not be she’s a little happy and wants to lick everyone’s face and that’s not good for the therapy point of view all the time. So I got to make sure she’s trainable and that all the time sometimes a good look at their faces.
Ashley Drew: We do work with a bunch of really wonderful trainers here in Tucson to that. We can always share with anybody who is looking for training for their animals.
Tom Heath: Tony Ray on The Advisory Board. What what do you advise on?
Tony Ray: It seems pretty straightforward you need animals and give their a well, I think my my talents and skills come into pet partners as far as marketing advertising. And connections to the community which is what you know, so that’s where I’m kind of have carte blanche to help as I can and that’s what I’ve been doing is just getting the word out making the connection setting up events doing the stuff that I love to do on a regular basis.
Tony Ray: So there’s another natural fit for me and I asked Ashley for approval on everything and she lets me kind of do what I want. I know as long as I’m behaving and your back your background your type of marking your background is in real estate, right? I’ve been selling real estate in Tucson for 25 years. And that’s one of the things I love about real estate is I get to build websites and do social media and marketing and advertising and all that fun stuff and connecting people as my big thing and that’s served me very well in our community and pet partners is another match up to that. It just works just cohesively it’s beautiful.
Tom Heath: Speaking of matchup cohesively and beautiful its transition and then to to a second Saturday, so that’s really what we’re here to talk about. October 12 at your downtown office. Correct? You have an event coming up?
Tony Ray: Right? Right, right. We have down 2nd Saturday. We’re going to have Pet Partners down at the TNT will office at 260 E Congress, which is right across from the Ronstadt Center and it’s a it’s right in the middle of all of the people walking by and stuff. So we’re hoping to promote more awareness for pet partners from that location. So we’ll have a couple tense out there and some fun things going on for people to stop by.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: We might have some celebrity pets there to see you doing here. You already have some therapy animals on site we are. Yeah, we’ve been promoting it to our handlers and we’ve received a lot of great excitement fotini. He’s going to be bringing Jack the cat and we’ve got Seneca who’s going to bring Stetson who is a very beautiful miniature horse and I believe later the dog might be making an appearance as well. The dog is named later. We’ll be there.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: So you’re going to have a 2nd Saturday. You’re going to have a horse for for people to come check out.
Ashley Drew: We are so far Stetson said that he has nothing on his calendar and he’s very excited to come out and support. I’ve talked to us that since people. Yeah. Yeah and Stetson got back to me and said absolutely he’s gonna be there. He’s pretty cool about it. He wants to participate
Tom Heath: When I saw the title of this howling at the moon. It’s it seems like it’s a photo op to right you can come down and get your pictures taken with the animals and yep.
Tony Ray: There’s gonna be some fun photo ops and fun things to you’re going to want to post when you’re down there. So that’ll be cool. I don’t want to give away all the surprise. Yeah. It’s going to be very fun and happy so animals. What if you’re planning to come down for a second Saturday then it’s 216 East Congress. If you’re not planning to come down for second Saturday, then it Leo to $69. I need you to come down here anyway, so it’ll be a great time downtown.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: There’s Tucson meet yourself second Saturday the pet partners event, so it’s going to be a lot. Activity and excitement and downtown probably one of the nicest nights in the whole event year is going to be this one because of the weather is always beautiful this time. It’s going to be stunning whether it was a reason to get out guaranteed by a member of The Advisory board that we’re going to perfect weather. So guaranteed. I just seven sixty five to seven six to eight. So you’ll have you’ll be out there roughly around starting around 5 o’clock.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: Yes, we will and we’ll have teams will have a handful of teams there between the five to seven hour and then from 6 to 8 because it’s therapy animals are only allowed to visit for up to two hours. Okay, and I’m assuming you know kids activities and all kinds of things. Okay.
Tom Heath: Now outside of this event what are some of the things that people can be aware of to help our partners besides I’ve obviously you need any pets and handlers. Yeah, what are the things that you’re looking for?
Ashley Drew: We’re also looking for Unleashed volunteers. So anybody who’s looking to volunteer for a really great organization? That helps people and has wonderful animals Unleashed volunteer can assist our teams on visits. They can do office work. We’re also looking for more Advisory board members. So members of the community that are looking to make an impact and we’re hoping to do some larger fundraisers in 2020. So anybody who wants to get involved or join a committee the more the merrier?
Tony Ray: I think that it’s important to know we have about a hundred fifty teams and that sounds like a lot but one of our really we could accommodate the community. We need 250 teams minimally right now, correct?
Ashley Drew: Yeah. Our goal is to register at least 75 by December the teams that we have have regular places that they’d like to visit and we’ve been getting requests for new facilities and new schools and new places that want teams to go visit. And so the only way that we can really help fill those is by getting new people in that are looking for new opportunities. So yes our goal Johnny Ray had mentioned is to actually get to 350 and the next year or so.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: Wow, that’s a pretty pretty significant jump from from 150 to 350. As long as you’ve got a llama, a bunny, carrot, or a dog or if you don’t have any animal, but you want to be involved every animal every Handler go the animal in the Handler has to have someone with them on every visit.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: So those are the Unleashed volunteers that would go and be part of that. And so we have a hundred if we have 350 handlers. We need 350 Unleashed volunteers to go with them. Well, they don’t have to have one but it certainly helps. Yeah, like if you went to the Boys and Girls Club you can imagine how excited those kids get seeing, you know small dog, you know walk in the room and so having that extra set of hands to help with dog Bingo or if they’re playing the memory game to learn different skills that you can learn from an animal. You know, it just helps make the visit just flow so much smoother.
Tom Heath: I guess the last question then that I’d like to leave with this. Can you tell us I mean you’ve been doing this for a little bit now have you have you had one of those experiences and we’ve talked to someone who’s been affected by one of the therapy animals that’s really kind of resonated with you?
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: Yeah, so I shortly after I started I was meeting some of my teams for the first time and I was asking them, you know why they got involved or why they’ve been involved for so long and they shared with me that during one of their first few visits.
Ashley Drew and Tony Ray: They went to visit a little girl at the hospital and when the the dog came in she just opened her eyes and started petting him and you know, the Handler didn’t think anything of it because she thought that you know, that’s just how it was and then it turns out that the mom and the nurses were crying because the little girl had actually been in a coma and just happened to since of the dog was there and woke up and it was really incredible.
Tom Heath: I think wine with that before we get it all of us right A lot of these stories and well, thank you guys for spending your time. We’ll see you at second Saturday on the 12th. I will definitely be there and appreciate the work that you’re doing here in Tucson. Thanks for having me. Thanks.
Tom Heath: Emotional indeed. I went to an open house that they had Tony Ray invited me in there and they shared stories of other examples of how these pets have connected with all manner of our community old young veteran civilians, and the stories of these connections are absolutely amazing.
Tom Heath: So I’m going to be down there on second Saturday and maybe I will see you there. We’ll have details on our Facebook page right after the show as a reminder. This is Life along the streetcar and you’re listening on Downtown Radio. 99.1 FM or you’re streaming it on Downtown Radio.org.
Tom Heath: Well that’s going to do it for the last Sunday in September that was episode number 103. We got a chance to highlight the United Way days of caring it’s in October towards the end of the month, but you can head over there and start volunteering for some of the projects around town.
Tom Heath: Also spoke with Ashley Drew executive director, Tony Ray Baker Advisory Board member of an organization called pet partners recently given the accreditation of a state chapter here in Arizona and having a big event at 216 East Congress on second Saturday in front of the Tierra Antigua office there several animals out visiting and chance to come by and have your picture taken with some of those celebrity animals.
Tom Heath: Coming up as we roll into October. Got some good things lined up for you. I mentioned in a couple weeks. We’re going to go back to the United Way talk to them about their days of caring with a specific project that involves a mural in Barrio Viejo and next week.
Tom Heath: Very excited to have Dan Guerrero scheduled for the show. He is the son of Lala Guerrero and he’s a Tucson native, but he has now in LA, he’s award-winning producer. He’s done lots of programming. He did a really good documentary about his father and he’s filming he screening a film that he’s got called GayTino.
Tom Heath: And he’s screening that at the Scottish Rite Temple on the 12th of October. that’s part of the film fest. So he’s going to call in we’re going to chat a little bit and discuss his life in Tucson has memories and of course, but about his father and his film and a little bit about Film Fest. That’s all coming up here in October.
Tom Heath: If there’s anything we should be covering and we’re You know how to get ahold of us email contact it Life along the streetcar dot-org hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and we’d love to share those things that you know about that. You think everyone should know about to watch any of our listen to any of our past episodes head over to Life along the streetcar.org.
Tom Heath: Just about one hundred and two episodes are on there a couple we missed in the recording. Sorry about that. But for the most part you get a good feel for everything. We’ve done all the way back to episode number one about two years ago with Mission Garden.
Tom Heath: We’re going to leave you today with music by Linda chorney all the way back from 1998. This is a song about a woman talking to a dog that human animal connection. And the song is off of their 1998 1998 album and here’s the song dog. Have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar.