How Our Program Is Different

Pet Partners established the Therapy Animal Program in 1990. Today, our national program continues to set the benchmark for safe and enriching therapy animal visits. We accomplish this through an ongoing commitment to rigor, education, and advocacy.

Learn more about what makes us different:

  1. The Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program is the only nationwide program to register any species other than dogs. The nine species we register are dogs, cats, llamas/alpacas, equines, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, miniature pigs, and birds. We are proud of the diversity of species within our program that bring their unique traits to engage each client differently!
  2. Our program pioneered training for the “human end of the leash.” We require successful completion of a comprehensive education program for all volunteers, before the animal is assessed for suitability. The curriculum focuses on vital safety elements, including infection control guidelines, patient confidentiality and best practices in animal handling. This means that our therapy animal handlers bring a substantive level of professionalism to the settings they visit.
  3. With the launch of our online Volunteer Center in 2015, coursework is now widely available, not just to prospective volunteers, but also to members of the general public who are interested in the human-animal bond. Our Canine Body Language and Infection Prevention & Control courses highlight Pet Partners’ dedication to safety, leading to positive, enriching interactions between humans and animals.
  4. Our program also distinguishes itself by requiring all animals to pass a skills and aptitude evaluation every two years. Re-assessing our teams is an essential practice to verify that their skills are intact and that the animal continues to find visiting comfortable and enjoyable. This is a practice recommended by both the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) as well as the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). We are the only national program who renews their teams based on updated screenings for the animal’s health and the team’s skills.
  5. We evolve to continue to support and engage the best therapy animal teams in the field. We offer a special initiative for volunteers specifically interested in literacy programs! The Read with Me program provides valuable curriculum to volunteers wishing to visit in these settings at no additional cost.
  6. Pet Partners believes that therapy animal visits are at their best when the animal’s welfare is a priority. We emphasize that as we are engaging our animals to participate in these activities, we must constantly be their best advocate. We base our organizational values, policies, and volunteer education on the belief that the animal’s welfare is a primary concern.