The COVID-19 pandemic required major adjustments for all of us, and ongoing decisions about how to continue therapy animal visitation in some form. Throughout the pandemic, Pet Partners has been dedicated to supporting our volunteers and the facilities and clients they serve, to ensure that everyone can still benefit from the powerful effects of the human-animal bond. This page is a summary of the resources we’ve created to help volunteers and facilities make decisions that are right for their circumstances based on the best available science and current practices. We will update this page periodically as the circumstances around COVID-19 evolve.
We know the power of therapy animal visits and we know how much our volunteers enjoy sharing your pets with your community. And we know that there are countless people, from exhausted healthcare workers to students finally returning to the classroom, who will benefit from interaction with therapy animals, especially as we recover from the effects of the pandemic. Pet Partners will continue supporting human health and well-being through the human-animal bond.
Pet Partners follows CDC guidance on best practices for therapy animal handlers. Read their guidance for the latest information about therapy animals and COVID-19.
We have created guidelines on safety, procedures, and policies around COVID-19 to support our volunteers in several types of Pet Partners activities. There are guidelines available on the following topics:
To view these guidelines, log in to your Pet Partners account, click Resources, and search for “COVID-19 Safety Guidelines”. These guidelines were updated in August 2021.
When you welcome Pet Partners therapy animal teams to your facility, you are welcoming teams that meet the highest standards for client safety. At this time, Pet Partners is requiring anyone participating in a Pet Partners activity (including therapy animal visits, team evaluations, and workshops) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to follow masking guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and applicable local public health guidance. Review our COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and Mask Guidance.
Pet Partners expects its volunteers to comply with the policy but has not requested proof of vaccination at this time. Facilities are welcome to verify the vaccination status of any Pet Partners volunteers, as well as other COVID-19 prevention measures, such as submission of a negative test result, as part of policies that restrict onsite visits by unvaccinated individuals. It is the facility’s decision when to resume in-person therapy animal visits based on the population they serve. In the event a facility and Pet Partners have differing policies on the same topic, the more conservative of the two shall apply.
When your facility is ready to welcome therapy animal teams again, we are here to support you. Our COVID-19 safety considerations for therapy animal visits provide an overview of our standard safety protocols, and detail specific recommendations around COVID-19. This guidance was updated in August 2021.
There are many in our communities who could benefit from the love of a therapy animal as we begin to recover from the pandemic. We all have a responsibility to ensure that interactions with therapy animals promote health and safety through rigorous infection prevention. Learn more about our Standards of Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions.
Many of the tools and resources developed over the course of the pandemic are still applicable as circumstances around COVID-19 change, and can be used by both Pet Partners volunteers and facilities that want to include therapy animal interactions. We’re pleased to offer a variety of resources to support animal-assisted interventions in innovative ways.
Animal-related engagement is any engagement opportunity that allows participants the benefits of the human-animal bond by encouraging the remembrance of feelings that are commonly associated with interaction with an animal. Learn more and access related content.
During pandemic restrictions, many Pet Partners teams continued to bring the benefits of therapy animals to facilities and clients through virtual visits and alternative options such as window visits, parades, and creative activities. Alternative visits are still an option for Pet Partners teams, and can expand visiting opportunities for both teams and facilities. Returning to visiting may vary depending on circumstances in your area or at your facility. And some locations or facilities may lack sufficient teams to meet the demand for in-person visits, or have client populations with health or accessibility issues that preclude in-person visits. Learn more about the possibilities.
We launched a global initiative encouraging students at home to pledge to read aloud to their pets, called We Are All Ears. While many students are beginning to return to classrooms, We Are All Ears can still provide vital support for reading abilities and encourage enjoyment of reading outside of school. Learn more about this initiative and how to participate.
Visit the Pet Partners YouTube channel for a wealth of educational content including Facebook Live events and recorded webinars. Videos include animal-related engagement opportunities; an ongoing series of conversations with leaders in the field of AAI; and information for volunteers and facilities on important topics such as infection control, volunteering with a variety of species, and building relationships between facilities and teams.