“The kids really enjoy being able to read to someone who is not judgmental,
who doesn’t correct their every error.”

Rita Boryszak, teacher at Octorana Elementary School

What are pre-requisites for registering with Pet Partners?

Collage of therapy animals

Thank you for considering becoming a registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team!

This page includes specific details for both the animal and handler. You can also take this self-assessment to see if you and your animal are ready to become a therapy animal team.

Prerequisites for the Animal Partner


 Animals may not be fed a raw protein diet (click here to read the related policy) .
 Animals must be reliably potty trained.
 Animals must be on a leash at all times.
 Animals should be healthy in order to evaluate or visit.  Animals with a condition that is being controlled with a prescribed medication are welcome to register and participate. However, animals receiving antibiotic, anitfungal or immunosuppressive medications, such as steroids or chemotherapy, may not register with Pet Partners until that course of treatment is completed.
 Animals should have good basic obedience. For dogs this includes a reliable "sit", "down", "stay", "come", "leave it" and walking on a loose leash. For other species, ask your evaluator or contact volunteering@petpartners.org for more information.

 Animals should have no history of aggression, including lunging , growling, biting, kicking or seriously injuring either people or other companion animals.
Please note: Dogs that have been trained to aggressively protect and/or have been encouraged to bite, even if it is a component of a dog sport, such as Schutzhund, may not be Pet Partners Therapy Animals.   

 There are a great many species that make wonderful visiting animals and can form a strong human-animal bond. The following species may become Pet Partners Therapy Animals: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, domesticated rats, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, and birds.
 Wild or exotic animals, such as wolf-hybrids, snakes, ferrets, lizards, may not be registered with Pet Partners. Additionally we do not register barnyard animals such as cows, goats, chickens, ducks or geese at this time.

 Pocket Pets, such as guinea pigs, rabbits and rats, must be at least 6 months old at the time of the team evaluation.
 Dogs, cats, equines, llamas/alpacas, pigs and birds must be at least one year old at the time of the team evaluation.
• Birds must have lived in the owner's home for at least one year.
• Animals other than birds must have lived in the owner's home for at least 6 months.
• Handlers who wish to register with animals they do not own must have had a relationship with the animal for at least 6 months at the time of the team evaluation. This time often includes training or preparing with the animal. Why six months? 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. 

Prerequisites for the Human Partner

As the handler, you should be able to:
  Read your animal's particular stress signals
  Anticipate your animal's responses, behavior and positions 

  Advocate for the safety and well being of your animal at all times
  Re-direct your animal's behavior in a positive way, that does not include yanking on the leash, striking or raising your voice
  Make light conversation with the people you visit

 You may volunteer with a friend or family member’s animal as long as you have known them for 6 months, have worked with them towards becoming a Pet Partners Therapy Animal and have the owners’ written consent to volunteer with their animal. The written consent must be brought to the team evaluation and must be included in your Pet Partners registration packet.
 People who do not have an animal may register as a 'Pet Partners Volunteer Only'. A 'Pet Partners Volunteer Only' can volunteer with a Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team as a helper or can support their group by helping with projects that do not require them to handle an animal. To become a volunteer, you must still complete the handler course, either in-person or online. You will not need to submit evaluation score sheets or an animal health screening form with your registration.

The person handling the animal must be at least 10 years old. Handlers younger than 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or an adult appointed by the parent/guardian. All individuals under 18 years of age must have written permission to participate from a parent or guardian. Written permission is provided at the time of the team evaluation and must be submitted with the Pet Partners registration packet.

For a list of attributes we look for in a great therapy animal and handler click here.

Did you know?

Approximately 30% of all Pet Partner animals were adopted from a shelter or rescue organization.


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