National Therapy Animal Day

National Therapy Animal Day 2021: Celebrating an Extraordinary Year

March 23, 2021

National Therapy Animal Day

Spring is here and soon it will be April 30, which is National Therapy Animal Day! This special event was created by Pet Partners to recognize and celebrate our amazing therapy animal teams. National Therapy Animal Day has several goals:

  • Recognize and honor therapy animals for the amazing work they do.
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about the role therapy animals play in enhancing the health and well-being of humans.
  • Honor the thousands of dedicated handlers who volunteer their time and compassion to brighten the lives of those in their communities by sharing their therapy animals.

This year will be the seventh celebration of National Therapy Animal Day, and we’re so grateful to be able to recognize all the dedicated therapy animal teams working in communities across the world. We’ve seen extraordinary and difficult circumstances since last year’s observance of the day. But our amazing volunteers have persevered with dedication and creativity. As we approach National Therapy Animal Day 2021, there are reasons to be hopeful about the next several months, and to celebrate the possibilities for therapy animals. Read on for some suggestions about how to celebrate and spread the word this year.

Make April 30 National Therapy Animal Day where you live

A proclamation from the mayor of Columbus, GA regarding National Therapy Animal Day

Raise awareness in your community by working with your local officials to officially proclaim April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day in your city, county, or state. Therapy animals have played such an important role in maintaining connections and supporting well-being in our communities over the past year—this is an opportunity for your local officials to formally recognize the vital work therapy animal teams have been doing.

We’ve made it easy to get in touch with your local officials through our action alert form: Just enter some information about yourself and why therapy animals are important to you and your community, and submit it!

If you’re a therapy animal handler, we have a special action alert form just for you.

And if your community makes a proclamation, be sure to tell us about it so we can help you celebrate!

Get the word out on social media

Get the word out about the benefits of therapy animals through social media! Social media is a wonderful way to help people learn more about what therapy animals do, and to ask your friends, family, and followers to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day with you.

  • Write and post a story about a therapy animal visit that was especially meaningful for you.
  • If you’re a handler, share photos of your therapy animal in their Pet Partners gear or on a visit.
  • If you’re someone who has benefited from a therapy animal visit, you could share photos from your visit.
  • Make a video to talk about how being involved with therapy animals—whether as a handler, a client, a facility staff member, or a practitioner—has been important to you.
  • Use creative ways to express your love for therapy animals! Drawings, paintings, collages, cards, and animation are just some of the ways you can show how therapy animals have been important to you. This can be an especially appealing way for kids to participate, but everyone can take satisfaction in using their creative skills to celebrate therapy animals.
  • Watch and share our videos. Telling a story is one of the best ways to demonstrate the power of the human-animal bond, and we have several great ones to share.
    • Watch our story about Jack, whose cancer diagnosis inspired his neighbor to become a Pet Partners handler.
    • Learn about Bellin, who recovered from an early life of abuse and mistreatment to become a beacon of hope for children.
    • Hear about how two therapy animal teams helped Jaylen find his will to live again after being severely injured.

Whatever you choose to post, make sure to tag Pet Partners and include #NationalTherapyAnimalDay and #PetPartners so we can share your post too!

Take part in Treats & Sweets Day

Pet Partners teams make the world a better place every day. By participating in Treats & Sweets Day, you can bake a difference, too!

Sign up to be a baker or create a baking team to help support therapy animal teams. This year we’ve got new ideas for virtual and distanced events so you can hold your event safely, as well as a variety of creative new resources (like therapy animal-themed recipes!), and many fun incentives to motivate your fundraising. Find everything you need to whip up a delectable Treats & Sweets setup throughout the month of April on the Treats & Sweets Day website.

If baking isn’t your thing, you can support our bakers and baking teams by donating to fundraisers and helping get the word out. However you take part, it’s the sweetest way to support therapy animals.

Organize a therapy animal visit: In-person, virtual, or alternative

The best way to celebrate therapy animals is to demonstrate the importance of their work. A National Therapy Animal Day visit is an ideal way to do that. And this year, thanks to animal-related engagement and the creativity of our volunteers, there are multiple ways to visit that can still be done safely.

If your area or facility is ready to welcome in-person therapy animal visits again, we can support you in doing it. We have safety guidance for handlers and facilities, and our best-in-the-field infection control protocols can help reduce the risk presented by in-person visits. See our blog post on returning to visiting for more information.

COVID 19 crisis response visit

Not everyone is ready for in-person visiting yet, so we’ve got a variety of alternative options to ensure that people can still benefit from the human-animal bond. Virtual visits through videoconferencing are still popular and a safe way to provide animal-related engagement. Alternative activities such as window visits, parades, and outdoor education provide options for people to see therapy animals with minimal risk. And personal touches such as sending letters and photos or engaging in creative activities like making cards and videos can provide a special connection through the physical reminders of therapy animals.

Covid 19 window visit

Expand your knowledge and skills in AAI

Pet Partners offers continuing education courses as part of our commitment to being the gold standard in therapy animal programs. National Therapy Animal Day is an excellent opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge as a handler, or to learn more about important procedures and best practices for anyone working with therapy animals. Continuing education courses include infection prevention and control (very relevant right now!), canine body language, and working with veterans and people with Alzheimer’s. Visit our Online Education page for more info.

Woman with a beagle at a laptop. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

You could also improve your knowledge of AAI and therapy animal best practices through publications such as the book Standards of Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions; our Facility Tool Kit for guidance in setting up a therapy animal visiting program at your facility; or our white papers on Animal-Related Engagement, Empirical Support for Therapy Animal Interventions, and Pets in the Workplace.

Animal-Related Engagement white paper

And current handlers can brush up on your knowledge of handler best practices by reviewing the Therapy Animal Handler Course, which is free for any registered Pet Partners handler; or expand your abilities by going through our Animal-Assisted Crisis Response program, which will be useful not only in the immediate aftermath of crisis, but also in supporting people through the trauma and grief that the pandemic has brought. Log in to your Pet Partners account to learn more.

Become a Pet Partners handler, or train as a volunteer leader

The past year has made clear that the need for trained and screened therapy animal teams is going to increase significantly as we start to recover from the pandemic. We’re dedicated to adding many new teams this year to help meet the demand for therapy animal visits. National Therapy Animal Day is the perfect time to start your journey towards changing the lives of others through the human-animal bond. You can learn more and start the process on our website.

A therapy llama and handler visit with two seniors

We’re also going to need more volunteer leaders in communities everywhere: team evaluators to screen therapy animal teams and ensure they can visit safely, and volunteer instructors who can help educate prospective volunteers about becoming a therapy animal handler. If you’re an experienced therapy animal handler, becoming a volunteer leader is the next step in supporting your community and expanding the impact of the human-animal bond. To learn more, log in to your Pet Partners account and click Get Involved.

A Pet Partners evaluator instructs a team at an evaluation

Sign up to be an advocate

National Therapy Animal Day is all about advocating for our field—but it shouldn’t end after April 30! Pet Partners advocates around the country have played important roles in legislation that supports standards and access for therapy animals in multiple states. Anyone with a passion for animal-assisted interventions can be an advocate. Sign up to become a Pet Partners advocate and get alerts and information about how you can make a difference year-round.

Become a Pet Partners Advocate

No matter how you choose to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day this year, it’s an opportunity to bring attention to the vital work of therapy animal teams and recognize the powerful impact they make in their communities year-round. April 30 might be the official recognition of Therapy Animal Day, but for volunteers, facilities, and communities everywhere, every day is therapy animal day.

What are your plans for celebrating National Therapy Animal Day this year? Tell us about it!

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