2001-Tue Aug 22 12:58:45 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
From dogs to horses, there are many stories of therapy animals making a difference in people’s lives. The amazing tales are enough to inspire pet owners to register their own pets as therapy animals. Think your pet would be perfect in a therapy setting? Ideal therapy animal candidates should relish being around people, be calm but outgoing, loving, and gentle, while still being reliable and predictable in a variety of public places and with all manner of strangers.
If this is a path you and your pet might be interested in pursuing, we've got you covered. We talked to three reputable nonprofits, Pet Partners, The Good Dog Foundation and Love on a Leash, to find out exactly what's involved in the process of becoming a therapy animal team.
Pet Partners has over 11,000 registered therapy teams nationwide that visit hospitals, retirement homes, hospices, schools and even libraries. According to Mary Margaret Callahan, director of program development, the majority of their teams consist of dogs, but owners with cats, birds, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs are also able to register.
“One thing that distinguishes Pet Partners is our focus on training the human end of the leash and not just evaluating the animal,” Callahan says. “We know in these settings the animal and handler need to work together as a team so we train both partners.”
Only animals that are at least 1 year old (6 months old for smaller animals) and have been living with their owner at least six months can register. All animals need to have had basic obedience training prior to applying. Further requirements include:
1. Therapy animal handler course
Everyone must pay for and complete a registered animal handler course. This can be an in-person workshop or an online session. The course teaches the skills needed to volunteer in a therapy setting.
2. Visit a veterinarian
Every animal needs to receive a health screening. All pets must pass a general physical exam, be free of internal and external parasites, have up-to-date immunization requirements as prescribed by your vet, and have a current rabies certificate and immunization as recommended by state law.
3. Team evaluation
Now that you've passed the therapy course and your animal's health has been checked out, you’re ready to visit a licensed Pet Partners evaluator and go through a mock visit, which simulates the therapy environment. The visit is evaluated in two parts: how well the animal is controlled by the handler and listens to commands, and how well you and your pet respond to your surroundings. According to Callahan, the type of stimuli during the visit changes depending on the type of animal.
Once you’ve passed the evaluation, all you need to do is send in your registration paperwork and fee, which ranges from $30 (for an additional animal) to $90. You’ll receive an acceptance letter, ID, and animal badge. Once you receive these you can start visiting facilities. Pet Partners offers a directory on their website where you can find facilities to contact about visits.
After you’re a registered team, you need to be reevaluated every two years.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.