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Inspiring Excellence: Pet Therapy Team Kerry & Carmel Receive CCUSD Award 

We are grateful to partner with schools and other youth-serving organizations who appreciate the life-changing impact of pet therapy for the children in their care.

One of these partners is Lone Mountain Elementary School, located within Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD), where Volunteer Kerry & Therapy Dog Carmel visit for our Animals, Books, and Children (ABC) Program.

The staff at Lone Mountain appreciate the visits from Kerry & Carmel so much that they nominated them for the district’s Inspire Excellence Award, one of the highest honors given in CCUSD to recognize outstanding contributions from teachers, administrators, support staff, and community members — and we are very pleased to announce that Kerry & Carmel won!

School Principal Shelly Richardson and staff surprised Kerry with the news by presenting her with flowers (and dog treats for Carmel!), and a letter inviting them to an awards ceremony to formally receive their recognition.

“I was really stunned! We do what we do because we love it, not because we need recognition.” Kerry shared, “I am grateful to the Cave Creek Unified School District and the wonderful staff at Lone Mountain for their enthusiastic support of our program! It is always nice to know that what we do really does have an impact and makes a difference!”

At the CCUSD Awards Ceremony, the Superintendent read a wonderful write-up recognizing their dedication and the difference they’ve made in the lives of students and staff alike through their pet therapy work. Therapy Dog Carmel was the star of the show as she accompanied Kerry to the stage to accept their award.

The Importance of Pet Therapy in Our Community

This recognition of Kerry & Carmel’s work is a validation of the profound impact that pet therapy can have for the children in our community. At a time when mental health and well-being can be a struggle, Carmel’s sweet and gentle presence has reduced stress and anxiety on campus and enhanced the confidence and motivation to read for the students she visits with one-on-one.

This award serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most transformative lessons come from the unlikeliest of sources—a wagging tail, soulful gaze, and soft fur of a four-legged therapist. Therapy dogs like Carmel bring a unique dimension to educational settings, offering comfort, support, and a non-judgmental presence that can be profoundly therapeutic.

As we celebrate Kerry & Carmel receiving this well-deserved award, let’s also take a moment to reflect on the broader message they embody—the power of empathy, connection, and unwavering dedication to nurturing the hearts and minds of our future generations through pet therapy.

A little boy holds his certificate of completion for the ABC Pet Therapy Program and poses next to Therapy Dog Carmel.
A note written to Carmel by an ABC Pet Therapy Program Participant.
Top: A little girl holds her Certificate of Completion for the ABC Pet Therapy Program and poses next to Carmel. Below: Carmel checks out the gifts from her student.
Gifts for Carmel from an ABC Pet Therapy Program participant, including a new toy, dog treats, love letter note, and handmade card.
A little girl poses with Carmel while holding her certificate of completion from the ABC Pet Therapy Program.
A note written to Carmel by an ABC Pet Therapy Program Participant.

Do you have an incredible dog like Carmel you’d like to share with children in need? Sign up for a free virtual information session to learn more!

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