When Philanthropic Planning Goes to the Dogs and Benefits the Community

Financial planning goes beyond caring for yourself and your loved ones. Including philanthropy into your planning portfolio will extend caring and comfort into your community and support the causes that you are passionate about. Carol Beesley put this into action founding Beesley’s Paw Prints, a United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee collaborative.

As pet owners everywhere can attest, pets often provide therapeutic qualities: reducing one’s stress, improving one’s mood, and generally brightening one’s day. According to one study published in 2022, therapy dog teams had a clinically significant impact in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Different from service dogs in that they are not trained to perform specific tasks, therapy dogs provide comfort and companionship to those who need it and have been proven to be an effective mood-booster and stress-relief tool. In fact, therapy dogs are often brought onto university campuses, particularly during finals weeks, because of their ability to relieve stress and help regulate emotions.

No matter your age, occupation, or disposition, dogs can be a powerful therapeutic tool. This idea has been foundational to Beesley’s Paw Prints therapy dog program since its inception in 2015. This nonprofit is an impressive example of philanthropy in the community on the part of founder Carol Beesley.  As a philanthropist within her community, Beesley created an organization that encourages the use of already-certified therapy dogs as well as provides avenues for interested owners to get their dogs certified through acclaimed national organizations. Becoming part of the Beesley’s Paw Prints team means being able to effect positive change by visiting partnered schools and universities, senior housing, hospitals, community centers, and more with their certified pets, brightening the lives of children and adults alike.  The strategic incorporation of Beesley’s Paw Prints within her estate planning showcases a forward-thinking approach to philanthropy. By endowing this initiative, Carol Beesley ensures its sustained existence and continued contribution to the betterment of society.

Beesley’s Paw Prints relies on community volunteers and local philanthropy to improve lives through therapy dogs. Therapy dogs and their handlers operate in one of three branches: as lobby greeters, community support, or court dogs. Lobby greeters, often puppies, work in lobbies of the Children’s Advocacy Center, greeting clients and teaching children how to interact with therapy dogs. Community support volunteers work with partner agencies, including therapists and other health organizations, throughout Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties. Finally, court dogs operate in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit court system as well as the Family Court system, providing comfort and emotional support to those testifying, particularly children who are called to recount traumatic situations.

Not everyone needs to found a nonprofit as part of their philanthropic planning. Volunteering and donating to local nonprofits such as Beesley’s Paw Prints ensures that the benefits remain in the community, directly impacting local connections and local benefactors. 


This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.