Program Requirements

Both ends of the leash, human and animal, must meet the highest standards to volunteer with Pet Partners. If you are at least 10 years of age, learn if you and your pet qualify.

A therapy dog team during a reading visit with a young student.
Charley the Mini Australian shepherd
A therapy dog team during a reading visit with a young student.
Charley the Mini Australian shepherd

All successful handlers must be able to:

Adhere to Pet Partners' policies and procedures.
Read your pet's body language, recognizing approaching and avoidant behaviors.
Interact with your pet positively, supporting them as needed.
Anticipate your pet's response in different situations and set them up for success at all times.
Cue or redirect your pet gently and effectively, without force, or coercion.
Interact with those you visit, while simultaneously tending to your pet.
Guide interactions during each visit in a patient, polite, and professional manner.
Advocate for the safety and well-being of your pet at all times.
Pass a criminal background check (for US volunteers 18+).
Register for the Therapy Animal Program using a unique email address.

We Register a Variety of Animals

Pet Partners understands that interactions with many species of animals can be therapeutic. We proudly register nine different species of animals for therapy visits, including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, birds, miniature pigs, and llamas and alpacas.

All therapy animals, regardless of type, must:

Be at least one year old at the time of evaluation, or 6 months old for rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats.
Have lived in the owner’s home for at least six months (one year for birds). This allows time for a bond to be created between the owner and pet.
Be reliably house-trained, as waste collection devices are not permitted (except for flight suits for birds).
Be responsive to their owner’s direction and support.
Be currently vaccinated against rabies (rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and birds are exempt).
Not be fed a raw meat diet.
Welcome, not merely tolerate, interactions with strangers.
Be comfortable wearing Pet Partners acceptable equipment.
Have no history of aggression or causing serious injury to other people or pets, including bite or protection training.
If you have a young animal who does not meet all the above requirements yet, it is never too early to start preparing for future volunteer work!
Not be experiencing an acute or chronic health condition or taking a medication that may make an animal ineligible to visit or register.

Ready to Volunteer?

Take the next step and apply to be a volunteer therapy animal team with your pet.

We Always Put Safety First

  • A Pet Partners therapy dog team of a man and his dog pose outside near flowers.Pet Partners volunteers understand they play an important role in keeping everyone involved in a visit safe: their animal, the client, and themselves. 
  • Infection prevention is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. We follow various best practices including regular hand hygiene, grooming, vaccinations, and animal diet considerations. Additionally, only healthy animals who are free from illness or injury are able to participate in therapy animal visits. 
  • At Pet Partners, animal welfare comes first in everything we do. We rely on our volunteers to prioritize their pet’s well-being which keeps everyone safe. Pet Partners empowers you to choose volunteer opportunities that are the right fit for your therapy animal and supports you in proactively managing interactions to ensure your pet’s emotional and physical safety. Our animals are not just our volunteer partners, but our family. They shouldn’t simply tolerate their roles, but they should be made to thrive in them. 

We Support the Standards of Practice

The Standards of Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) is a publication that offers the most comprehensive guidelines for AAI and prescribe a rigorous set of criteria designed to ensure the safety of therapy animals, handlers, and clients that they interact with. The Standards of Practice can serve as a reference for individuals, facilities, and organizations that are seeking to incorporate best practices. The publication includes five sections addressing standards for handlers, therapy animals, assessment, animal welfare, and risk management.