Today, in honor of National Love Your Pet Day, Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) in collaboration with PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, is introducing the newest Council patch program: the PetSmart Charities Paw Patch. This comprehensive program offers Girl Scouts in grades K-12 age-appropriate, hands-on opportunities to learn about the responsibilities of owning and caring for a pet, as well as careers involving animals and animal advocacy. 

“Thanks to PetSmart Charities, girls will receive a center Paw Patch and then earn the four smaller patches, called rockers, as they complete each of the four areas of the curriculum – voices for animals, pet responsibility, pet care and pet careers,” said Cristi Pontius, GSACPC program coordinator. 

To get girls started with the new program, the Council will distribute the center Paw Patch with a program guide to Girl Scouts in central and northern Arizona throughout the year. The new Paw Patch program for GSACPC is made possible through a sponsorship grant from PetSmart Charities.

Details on each program area and rocker:

• Voices for Animals–learning respect and empathy for animals through education, rescue, legislation and advocacy

• Pet Responsibility–learning about basic pet necessities and requirements before getting a pet

• Pet Care–learning about basic pet care

• Pet Careers–learning about a variety of careers dedicated to helping animals

“As an Arizona-based nonprofit, we are committed to supporting organizations and programs that bring people and pets together,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., president of PetSmart Charities. “We are excited to partner with the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts on the development of the PetSmart Charities Paw Patch, and we applaud the Girl Scouts for taking the initiative to build strong future community leaders, foster the unbreakable bonds with pets, and empower girls and young women to change the face of animal welfare.”

“Partnering with PetSmart Charities further supports our Council’s efforts to deliver on our mission of helping go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders empower themselves and make the world a better place as a result. We’re thrilled to offer girls a new way to discover, connect with, and take action for animals,” said Pontius. 

The program will officially launch during one of GSACPC’s signature events, World Thinking Day, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 24 at North High School in Phoenix from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year, World Thinking Day will focus on how girls are making an impact throughout the world. Girls and their families will visit themed booths hosted by Girl Scout troops and community partners to learn, try new food, and play games and activities. Girls can pick up the center Paw Patch and a program guide, and get a taste of qualifying program activities at the PetSmart Charities Paw Patch booth on-site.

“Launching the patch program to the hundreds of girls and their families who attend World Thinking Day is a natural fit and meant to open their minds to thinking critically about how to care for all of our furry and scaly friends,” Pontius said.  

Girls who attend the Council’s Camp Maripai and participate in a horse program this summer will also receive the center Paw Patch program guide and be able to earn the rockers. GSACPC will continue promoting the program through social media and with a presence at its other signature events, Thin Mint Sprint in October and Badge Bash in November.