For some pet owners, their beloved animals are a part of their families. These furry additions to households come with some major benefits. In fact, research shows that pet ownership can improve a person’s overall well-being and be a direct pathway to happiness.

Some studies also reveal that the bond between people and their pets is linked to several health benefits, including decreased feelings of loneliness and anxiety, increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities and more opportunities to socialize, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).

At Toyota, some employees who are pet owners know these benefits firsthand. That’s why in 2018, ToyoPets, a business partnering group (BPG), was created to give pet owners a space to connect and work on animal advocacy together. It was also put into place to support the diverse, inclusive, and passionate pet owner community.

“ToyoPets is committed to driving Toyota forward as a company in the community through our outreach efforts,” says Mary Barry, ​​a pet owner and loyalty strategy analyst at Toyota Financial Services (TFS). “We work with local organizations through volunteering, donations and learning opportunities for employees.”

Unconditional Love 
For some ToyoPets members, being a pet owner is an ongoing lesson in unconditional love. According to Dallas Campos, a senior analyst for Travel Services at Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), who has four dogs, three cats, one bunny, 22 chickens and four roosters, they provide the purest form of love.

“Your furry friends look up to you for everything,” Campos says. “Most importantly, your love and affection. However, being a pet parent also comes with its fair share of rewards as the unconditional love and loyalty they offer you and your family.”

In addition to love and companionship, pets can also be a shining beacon during challenging times.

Campos adds, “When I have a hard day, my pet is always there to comfort me. They provide mental relief and help me reduce my stress, which is beneficial for my professional life throughout the day.”

Fostering Connection
Patricia Pruitt, ToyoPets chair and travel analyst at TMNA, enjoys connecting with fellow colleagues and bonding over their mutual love and respect for animals.

“ToyoPets is a great BPG for all animal lovers,” she says. “It is also a great networking platform. I have met so many wonderful fellow employees through ToyoPets that I would not have met in my day-to-day. We all share a common interest.”

Members from ToyoPets agree that meeting with other pet lovers is incredibly beneficial.

“It helps drive engagement and helps me feel connected to Toyota in a new way,” Campos says. “When I feel connected and enjoy who I work with, it helps drive productivity and makes me a happier employee.”

Mary Barry, a loyalty strategy analyst with TFS, is a fur mom to two Miniature American Shepherds, Birdie and Willie. Barry shares Campos’ sentiments and appreciates the opportunities that the group affords.

“Joining ToyoPets provides you with a like-minded community of fellow pet owners and advocates,” she says. “It can provide you with leadership opportunities, as well as a chance to meet other employees who you may not have had the chance to meet professionally. It can help you get involved in your community and participate in fun events.”

Paws-itive Activities 
From volunteer activities where employees read to dogs at shelters to trunk-or-treat festivities where they fill their trunks with candy, ToyoPets members find creative and positive ways to stay engaged.

“Our volunteer events help employees give back to the community and support nonprofits in the surrounding neighborhoods,” says Amanda Darr, a collision program senior analyst with the Lexus Division. “ToyoPets also explores and develops opportunities to participate in community outreach programs and events with local and national nonprofit organizations.”

For example, the BPG, which consists of 880 members across the company, hosts fundraisers and events that support nonprofits like Spay & Neuter Network and Patriot Paws.

The group also hosts social activities including happy hours with dog-friendly environments and holiday-inspired outings.

Jillian Martinez, a sales operations analyst at TMNA who has been a ToyoPets member for a little over a year, participated in the Halloween festivities last October with her one-year-old pup, Zinnia, and had a memorable time.

“I think coming out to trunk-or-treat was a great experience,” she says. “My goldendoodle and I did a ‘Spiderman: Into the Multiverse’ costume where she was dressed up as Peter Parker Spiderman and I was Spider-Gwen. All the kids were so excited to see us dressed up and pet my dog.”

Driving the Message Forward 
These types of fun and engaging events are a hallmark of ToyoPets. They also tie into Toyota’s overall ethos and overarching philosophies.

“ToyoPets is committed to exemplifying the Toyota Way in all of our efforts by Acting for Others, Continuing the Quest for Improvement, Creating Room to Grow, and more,” Barry says. “BPGs like ToyoPets give employees a place where they feel like they belong. It helps us grow professionally and personally and can bring a lot of joy outside of our day-to-day work.”

Originally published April 12, 2024

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