Pet Partners AACR teams are trained and credentialed to provide emotional comfort and support to people affected by the impacts of crisis events. These teams are invited to deploy in response to events in their communities.
AACR is a form of animal-assisted activities (AAA) that provides comfort to those who have been affected by natural, human-caused, or technological disasters. AACR is effective because the safety, familiarity, novelty, and interest in the animal have been found to be impactful when building rapport with a person affected by crisis.
AACR is not a professional mental health intervention. Pet Partners AACR handlers must complete online training which includes psychological first aid concepts, sometimes also referred to as mental health first aid. This training has been designed with input from subject matter experts in the field.
AACR does not take the place of professional interventions, but provides support in the immediate wake of a crisis through listening, empathy, and sharing the unconditional love of a therapy animal. AACR can be effective for everyone affected by the impact of a crisis, including first responders and crisis management staff.
Currently registered Pet Partners teams are eligible for AACR training and credentialing when they have at least six months of active visiting experience. Pet Partners AACR teams receive training which includes psychological first aid concepts, sometimes referred to as mental health first aid, as well as an introduction to the FEMA Incident Command System. Registered Pet Partners volunteers who are interested in the AACR credential can find more information in the Volunteer Center.
Pet Partners AACR is built on a “neighbor helping neighbor” model. We believe that people who live in the community are best positioned to understand how to assist their community in the wake of a crisis or disaster. Teams focus on crisis events in their geographical area rather than being required to travel long distances.
All registered Pet Partners species are eligible for AACR credentialing and deployment. While most AACR teams have typically included only dogs, we know that other species of therapy animals can have value in this work and want to make them available to assist their communities in times of crisis.
Crisis event coordinators and facilities are invited to contact us with a specific request for information about deploying Pet Partners AACR teams.