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As an animal lover, I want to change the world for pets.
Every pet blogger I know got into this game, not because we thought it was glamorous (it’s not) or because we thought you could make a lot of money doing it (you probably won’t), but rather because we loved our pets and wanted to see all animals in homes that loved them just as much as we love ours.
There is a homeless pet problem in our world.
Millions of pets enter shelters every year and only a small portion of those animals end up in a loving, happy home. There are many who believe the system is beyond repair, but many more who have dedicated their time and their hearts to change. We may not all agree on what change looks like or how we get there, but it is my personal belief that change can be fostered in children long before they are old enough to be pet owners themselves. We can start teaching kids what responsible pet ownership looks like now, so by the time they are ready for a pet of their own they know what good choices to make and positive methods to use. Children are literally the future and childhood, when their developing brains are like little sponges, is the time to teach skills that will serve them throughout their whole life.
That’s why one of my very
favourite animal shelter events to host is a Teddy Bear Clinic.
It’s such a cute and fun event. We invite the children in our community to visit the shelter, tour the facility and to bring their
The goal for the day is to create a fun and relaxed way to talk about what makes an awesome pet owner.
*Please note: The craft & colouring elements have been included as ways to keep children engaged while waiting for their turn at the next station. I would encourage keeping all or most of these elements to ensure the public experience remains positive and wait times do not become frustrating.
Here is what you need to host a Teddy’s Bear’s Vet Clinic:
One of my goals for this year is to support shelters & rescue organizations all over – not just in my hometown. That’s why I’m launching my a rescue resource series filled with ideas and premade templates for community events, fundraisers and education opportunities.
We want to make it as EASY as possible for any organization or classroom to host a Teddy Bear Clinic, so we’ve put together this event guide and free printable posters, forms and other fun things to make your event a breeze. Everything with a ★ in front of it is available as a free download at the end of the post.
Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to scale back or add features to this event, as appropriate. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you have enough staff, volunteers, and supplies on hand to service the attendees. Nothing makes a community event more frustrating than long lines and running out of supplies.
Station 1: Registration
At this station, the goal is to get children registered for the event and to start talking about what makes you a responsible pet owner.
Crayons and/or coloured markers
You can ask kids to fill out a form telling you about their teddy and to draw a picture of them. The form asks for their name and their Teddy’s name, but more importantly, it asks about Teddy’s likes and dislikes. This can open up a conversation about how animals have feelings and preferences, just like people and how fun it can be to discover what makes your pet special and what makes them happy.
Note: Once registration forms are complete, they should be given to the Vet station, so they can call children and their teddy bears in order.
If you plan to share photos of the event on your website or social media, I strongly recommend adding a photo release to be signed by the child’s Parent or Guardian on the back of each form. Photo releases requirements for minors can vary by location, so we have not included this in the template.
Station 2: Teddy Bear ID Tags
This craft station is designed to give kids something to do while they wait for their turn with the Teddy Bear Vet or Groomer.
Blank Paper Tags and Tag Rings
★ Collars printed on Cardstock
Crayons and/or coloured markers
Fine tip black markers
Make sure each Teddy has identification tags.
Because the shelter I volunteer with is the city-run facility, we also stress the importance of completing your pet’s city registration, so your pet and your contact information is in our system, making it fast and easy for us to help your pet find their way home if they get lost.
Give each child a blank paper tag to write Teddy’s name and their phone number on, then they’re encouraged to personalize the front and a paper collar with a drawing for design. Once the collar is done, hole punch it, attached the tag and use tape to fasten it around Teddy’s neck.
Station 3: Teddy Bear Vet Appointment & Health Check
The goal of the vet check station is to stress the importance of yearly vet visits and preventative health measures, as well as how the vet can help your pet feel better and heal if they are sick or hurt.
I recommend incorporating some fear-free techniques as a part of this station introducing the concept that pets learn through positive methods, not force or fear. Some ideas include offering the bear a Teddy Treat, make sure you give Teddy a good pet/snuggle and reassuring their little human that Teddy isn’t afraid.
★Printable Teddy health certificates
Fine tip black markers
A couple of vet playsets – I like this one from Melissa and Doug
1″ VetWrap for Teddy’s with a boo-boo
Thread, Needle and Teddy Patches – to repair any rips or holes, if needed
Complete each item on the health checklist.
– Take Teddy’s temperature
– Look in Teddy’s eyes
– Look in Teddy’s ears
– Feel Teddy all-over looking for bumps or sore spots. (Kid’s will often point out a “sore spot” on Teddy, so make sure you check out any areas of concern.)
– Administer Teddy’s vaccines
If required, cover any “owies” with vet wrap bandaids or take Teddy to the back for any sewing repairs. (We recommend doing any sewing away from little eyes who may be upset by the needles.)
Sign the health & vaccination certificate and present it to the child, praising them for being such a good Teddy Bear owner and reminding them their pets should see the vet every year for a check-up – just like people!
Station 3: Groomer’s Visit
The goal of the grooming station is. to talk about regular grooming needs for pets, like baths, nails, and brushing. Just like humans, pets need to be clean in order to stay happy and healthy.
Optional prop: Teddy Tub
– Rubbermaid totes as a “wash tub” filled with bubbles
– a bottle of Teddy Shampoo
– a small towel
Unscented baby wipes
2-3 spray bottles with our homemade, kid-safe grooming spray
Several small plastic brushes or Zoom Groom style pet brushes
Pet nail clippers
★Printable product labels
Optional Teddy Dress Up Accessories:
I’ve included the teddy tub as a prop because kids are smart as snot and there’s guaranteed to be one who sassily notices that there *isn’t one* and is like “You don’t even have a bathtub!” LOL, kids man. So detail-oriented. To get a good bubble froth, place bubble bath in an empty milk jug or pop bottle with a small amount of water and shake until frothy. Refresh throughout the day.
Since it’s usually not feasible to wash each Teddy during an event, you can do a “bath check” to see if Teddy is clean. Look behind Teddy’s ears, check their paws and give them a quick smell. Spot clean any areas needed with a baby wipe. Declare they don’t need a bath today, but they probably do soon.
Examine teddy’s paws, checking to see if their nails are short enough. Pretend to clip one or two, telling the kids that Teddy’s need to keep their nails short so their paws are soft and no one gets scratched.
Guide kids through giving Teddy a good brushing. Sometimes kids will point out spots that have something sticky or knotted on their Teddy. Where you can, and with the parent or guardian’s permission, trim out any knots.
Let the child choose a scent and spritz Teddy with one of the grooming sprays. One quick spray will do!
Add a bow, bow tie or bandana to finish off Teddy’s fresh new look.
Station 4: Photo Station
This station is pure fun, but it can also be good advertising for your organization. Almost all kids like getting their photo taken, so you can invite them to take a photo with Teddy.
Polaroid camera (or let participants take their own photos with their phones)
Get kids to pose with their Teddy and hold a sign declaring “My Teddy got a clean bill of health at
Remember! You can only share photos of minors if you have their parent’s permission, so make sure you keep track of which photos you are allowed to share. You can also encourage parents and guardians to share the photos on social media with a special event hashtag or tagging your organization.
Free Printable Resources for Shelters & Rescue: How to Host a Teddy Bear Vet Clinic
I am so excited about these, you guys. I truly hope that this makes hosting a community outreach event like this as easy as possible for shelters and rescues.
All of these PDFs are fillable, which means if you open them in Adobe Acrobat (download it for free here) and click on the pre-set boxes, you can easily add your logo and organizations info.
To help as much as I can, if you are a registered charity and you have ANY challenges or trouble using these files, shoot us an email with you organization’s name, event information, and logo and we will be happy to update and send you these forms branded free of charge. (I mean, if you can give us a few days’ notice, that would be amazing. Please?)
Click on any file name to download:
Teddy Bear Clinic Poster
Teddy Bear Clinic Registration Form
Small (8 1/2 x 11) Collar Template
Large (11 x 17 Collar Template
Teddy Bear Health Certificates
Teddy Bear Clinic Labels
Have you ever hosted or attended a Teddy Bear Clinic? What was your favourite part? Do you have any tips to share?
On a personal note, I want to say major thank yous to the staff and volunteers at the Surrey Animal Resource Center, particularly Kelly Welsh without whom this post would never have come to life. It is truly a pleasure to work with this organization and see all the ways they work to improve the quality of life for pets and their people in our community. I also want to thank our local PetSmart stores, particularly PetSmart in Guildford for their incredibly generous support of the Teddy Bear adoption events in our facility. We couldn’t do this without your support.
ALSO thank you to Jill Caren of Charity Paws. A chance conversation with Jill is what inspired me to tackle what I could do to help shelters and rescues that aren’t local. The Charity Paws site is filled with ideas and resources for rescues and I can’t recommend it enough.
Look for a post on a Teddy Bear adoption event – coming soon!
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