International Handler FAQ

You’re in a pilot/test phase for international expansion of the therapy animal program.  What does that mean?

We have not worked with international volunteers previously, so we are engaged in a learning process about how to best offer our registry outside the United States.  Part of that learning process is offering the registry in limited countries and then gathering feedback and data about how it is working.  From there, depending on continued support and resources, we can make improvements and adjustments to the program before offering it more widely.  Anyone who engages with Pet Partners as a volunteer during the pilot phase must exhibit flexibility and willingness to collaborate.

Is there an International Handler’s Course or Manual?

There is not an international-specific course or manual at this time, but please refer to the list of key differences available on our international webpage.  Our Resource Library, which is available to prospective volunteers once a Volunteer Center account is created, will also contain documentation specific to international volunteers.

Why is Pet Partners only allowing canines from non-US countries?

Expanding internationally is a complex process.  We need to simplify certain elements of the program in order effectively pilot (or test) how the program works in other countries.  Pet Partners does strive to be inclusive of the 8 other species involved in our US program and we will continually consider the addition of other animals elsewhere.

I live in one of the countries listed as having available Pet Partners evaluators, but how can I tell if they are in my specific community?

Each country has a limited number of evaluators available (typically 1-4), so it is a good practice to verify if an evaluator is located within a reasonable distance.  Please visit our online calendar of events and select your country (in the State box).  You can then review the events in your country to determine a more specific location.

Tell me more about evaluation scores and ratings.

International teams can receive a score of Pass, Not Ready and Not Appropriate.  Not Ready means the team did not pass the evaluation on a particular day, but is allowed to try again.

Passing international teams may occasionally receive a special qualification.  Team evaluators apply special ratings in situations where the passing team’s behavior and body language suggests certain environments or volunteer situations are the best fit for that particular team.  Special qualifications are listed below with a single example of the type of team who may receive them.

  • One-on-on work only: a team who was clearly more relaxed during the evaluation when fewer people were present.
  • Routinely predictable interactions only: a team in which the human or animal had more pronounced reactions to surprises.
  • Visiting only with clients who are not medically fragile: a team in which a very affectionate but large dog likes to lean against the legs of clients.
  • Low activity/few distractions: a team that had a harder time focusing on a client interaction when another client or situation would present itself

Special qualifications should not be confused with qualification ratings, which apply only to US teams.  Unlike special qualifications, which team evaluators are not required to give as part of a score, qualification ratings (Complex or Predictable) are part of every passing score in the US.

I have a disability and want to change the way a team evaluation exercise is conducted. What do I do?

Contact Us regarding accommodations.  An accommodation is an approved adjustment to evaluation exercise; we always seek to make accommodations that still allow the exercise to determine the team’s skills and abilities. Accommodations in direct opposition to a Pet Partners policy or procedure will not be considered.  Please note that we will not make accommodations for animals with disabilities; however, many animals with disabilities can still complete the Pet Partners evaluation exactly as designed.  For example, because hand signals are allowed, a dog with a hearing impairment still has the opportunity to demonstrate skills and aptitude.

I need insurance in order to visit certain facilities in my country.  Does Pet Partners provide that?

At this time, we cannot provide liability insurance for international teams.  We encourage you to Contact Us, as we are currently tracking whether there is demand/need for US-based insurance among international volunteers.

I’m not sure how to find an appropriate training option for my dog in order to prepare to evaluate with Pet Partners.  And I need help finding a facility that will accept a visit from my animal and I if I pass the evaluation.  Will Pet Partners connect me to trainers and facilities?

Pet Partners has limited ability to help identify training and facilities internationally.  Please remember that we are in a pilot/testing phase for international expansion and, as such, our we do not yet have the knowledge of capacity to maintain a full resource list for international volunteers at this time.  Contact Us and we may be able to provide you with a limited amount of information and contacts.

I think I’m ready to get started!  What do I do next?

First, review the Program Requirements (disregard information about non-canines) and Volunteer Policies. Then create a Volunteer Center account and begin a registration under My Registrations. A registration must be in progress before you sign up for an evaluation via the Pet Partners calendar.

The My Registrations area will also prompt you to purchase your coursework – Handler’s Course, Canine Body Language, and Infection Prevention and Control. These need not be complete before you sign up for an evaluation, but they MUST be complete prior to your evaluation.  Prior to paying for coursework, confirm there is an evaluation scheduled in your area by consulting our calendar of events.