September 25, 2019
The 2019 Pet Partners Conference, Partnering with a Purpose, took place September 20-21 in San Antonio, TX. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring together handlers, professionals in the AAI field, practitioners and facilities, and Pet Partners staff to network, learn, and inspire.
The conference was full of informative sessions covering a wide range of topics relating to AAI. Here are some of the topics that were presented during conference sessions:
In addition, Dr. Fine provided support and information throughout the weekend for the Magic Award, the annual scholarship he established to promote personal/professional development for Pet Partners handlers. He had the opportunity to meet the 2018 recipient, Jennifer VonLintel, which provided evidence of how the Magic Award creates greater opportunity for AAI to expand.
The weekend wasn’t only about the sessions, though. There were opportunities throughout both days for handlers, volunteer leaders, practitioners, and Pet Partners staff to network and learn from each other.
Colorful ribbons and species stickers on conference badges gave people ways to connect over their pets and the type of work they do. And the the Wall of Honor offered attendees the chance to celebrate their therapy animal partners and pets who have made such a difference in the lives of those they visit.
The Friday evening celebration dinner encouraged attendees to have fun with the San Antonio location by dressing up in their finest western wear, and Pet Partners Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams and Chief Mission Officer Mary Margaret Callahan led an entertaining participation game to show the wide range of species, settings, and activities that conference attendees work in.
There were also some topic-specific events before and after the main conference, as part of Pet Partners’ dedication to supporting all facets of AAI.
On Thursday September 19, Dr. Taylor Chastain, Pet Partners National Director of AAI Advancement, held a summit with AAI professionals working in a broad range of specialties to find out more about the challenges they face and to workshop options they would like to see and ways to improve support for AAI practitioners.
On Sunday September 22, President and CEO C. Annie Peters held a town hall meeting with members of Community Partners and Community Groups to discuss how Pet Partners can assist and support local groups in serving their communities.
It was a wonderful weekend full of learning and connection, and a powerful reminder of why the work we do in support of the human-animal bond is so important. Pet Partners is proud to support so many dedicated volunteers and skilled professionals in this work, and this year’s conference demonstrated how all of us partner with a purpose to make our mission possible.
At the close of the conference, we announced the location for our 2021 conference: Chicago, IL! We’re looking forward to welcoming people to our event there in September 2021 and sharing more of how the field of AAI develops in the next two years. See you there!
Our thanks to our 2019 Conference sponsors, who helped make this year’s event possible: