Pet Partners is proud to register nine different species for therapy animal work in the United States and Canada. Although the majority of our teams are dogs, we also register cats, equines, rabbits, guinea pigs, llamas and alpacas, birds, miniature pigs, and rats. Currently, only canines are registered outside the United States and Canada.
Pet Partners Therapy Animals must meet the following criteria:
Take our quiz to find out if you and your pet are ready to form a therapy team.
Animal welfare and infection control are key principles of the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program. Asking animals to make therapy animal visits when they are not healthy increases stress and can lead to a worsened condition. Additionally, you may visit clients with compromised immune systems who would be at risk for transmission of zoonotic diseases.
If your animal is taking antibiotics, antifungals, or immunosuppressants (including steroid and chemotherapy medications), they will be unable to register and visit until they have finished treatment.
Pet Partners does register some animals with disabilities. To be eligible for participation, the animal should be able to clearly express consent, actively participate in a visit, and not experience an aggravation of their medical condition as a result of volunteerism. If you are interested in registering with an animal with a disability, please contact us so we can discuss the specifics of your particular situation.
Successful handlers will be able to do the following:
Please note: Pet Partners handlers may not be concurrently registered with another therapy animal organization that provides a similar program. All handlers must also have a unique email address in order to register with the Therapy Animal Program.
Pet Partners welcomes handlers as young as 10 years old. If you are under the age of 16, you must be accompanied on all visits by a parent/guardian or an adult appointed by the parent/guardian. All individuals under the age of 18 must have permission to participate from a parent or guardian, which is collected during the application process.
Pet Partners works with handlers with disabilities, including those with service animals. If your disability may require accommodations to the evaluation, please contact us and we’d be happy to discuss the specifics of your particular situation.
You may volunteer with the animal of a friend or family member, as long as you have known and been working with the animal for at least six months (or one year for birds) and have the permission of the animal owner. Effective therapy animal teams are based on a strong bond between the handler and animal. Pet Partners relies on handlers to have a strong relationship with their animal so they can read body language and signals that their animal may be tired, stressed, anxious, or fearful and then support them accordingly.
Pet Partners relies on a combination of registration fees and donations to provide our volunteer services, including Pet Partners’ liability insurance, continuing education programming, and qualified staff who advocate for and educate about the Therapy Animal Program. Your registration fee covers only one-third of the costs to provide these resources for your two-year registration. The rest of your support comes from generous individual donors (including Pet Partners volunteers), foundations, and corporate partners.
More information about registration costs
After you’ve reviewed all the basic requirements, this is the question that will truly determine your ability to become a successful team. Therapy animals must inspire confidence in those they meet, so they should consistently demonstrate that they’re well-behaved and have good manners. The three terms Pet Partners uses to describe this desired behavior are reliable, predictable, and controllable. When you can predict your animal’s reactions, you can take action to ensure a reliable response and maintain control of your animal in any situation. When clients and facility staff perceive that you’re in control of your animal, they’ll have confidence in you and your animal when you come for visits.