Thousands of facilities have opened their doors to Pet Partners therapy animal visits. Well-trained and thoroughly screened handlers and their animals can benefit the health and well-being of people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, retirement communities, rehabilitation centers, and many other facilities.

Research shows that positive interactions with animals increase endorphins, oxytocin, prolactin, and dopamine. These are the hormones associated with blood pressure regulation, pain relief, stress relief, and joy. Visits from therapy animal teams can normalize stays away from home for hospital patients, improve motivation to participate in treatment protocols, and lessen worry, anxiety, unhappiness, and pain.

Are you a facility that has Pet Partner team visits?  Please take our survey and let us know how we are doing. 

Video: Bringing Teams to Your Facility

Why Choose Pet Partners?

  • The leading therapy animal organization in the United States.
  • Over 13,000 active teams in 2017.
  • Approximately 3 million therapy animal visits each year.
  • $2M comprehensive general liability insurance for all volunteers.
  • Required handler education including topics such as confidentiality, infection control, effective communication, and animal handling best practices.
  • Comprehensive continuing education available to handlers, including topics such as working with Veterans and clients with Alzheimer’s.
  • Read With Me™ special initiative supports safe and effective interactions for reading and literacy programs.
  • Walk with Me™ special initiative promotes physical activity in your patients or residents by walking with a therapy animal.
  • Team re-evaluation every two years to ensure the suitability of the animal as they mature.
  • Youth Endorsement option currently being piloted–the only targeted evaluation to demonstrate a therapy animal’s appropriateness with children.
  • Stringent infection control protocols, including thorough grooming standards, required hand hygiene before and after any interaction, and the exclusion of raw meat diets.
  • Dual level qualifications for teams to help volunteers and facilities find settings in which the team will be the most effective.
  • Not just therapy dogs: Pet Partners carefully evaluates nine different species through our Therapy Animal Program, expanding your possible pool of therapy teams to include cats, horses, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and rats, and even mini pigs and llamas!

While there are many local, regional, and even national groups that can provide therapy animal visits, Pet Partners has the highest standards in the field for our registered therapy animal teams, ensuring both safe and effective visits in the community.

We are proud to be the only national program aligned with the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) recommendations for therapy animals.

Getting Started

Once you’ve decided you are interested in setting up a therapy animal program, where should you start? Pet Partners is committed to supporting our facilities to set up programs for maximum success. These next steps are a great place to begin, but if you have questions please contact us.

Determine Your Goals

Where do you want teams to visit? Where will visiting teams have the most impact? Is there a target client group you’d like to receive visits, such as those experiencing long stays or those who need motivation to participate in treatment? What level of staff involvement will be possible? Are you planning to incorporate animals as part of a therapeutic treatment, such as physical therapy?

All our teams are qualified as suitable for either predictable or complex environments. Environments are judged on a combination of staff involvement and activity level. By considering where you would like visits to occur and what kind of staff involvement will be possible, you can set volunteers and the clients they visit up for success.

Establish Guidelines

Begin by reviewing the Pet Partners policies and procedures that all volunteers abide by. This will familiarize you with our expectations of volunteers. Based on the unique needs of your facility, you’ll likely need to establish some additional guidelines and procedures for your visiting animal program. In the case that both Pet Partners and the facility have a policy on the same topic, the more conservative of the two shall apply.


  • Who will be the point person for your therapy animal team volunteers?
  • What site-specific orientation will they need?
  • What area of the grounds can animals use for breaks?
  • Are there additional requirements for your facility, such as completing a background check or additional health screenings you need to communicate to volunteers?
  • How will you determine who should receive visits?
  • How will you screen clients for concerns such as allergies or fear of animals?
  • Where will visits occur? Individually or in group settings?

A Note About Insurance

All Pet Partners teams who are in good standing and following Pet Partners policies and procedures have the benefit of our $2 million general liability insurance. A team can present a current copy of the insurance certificate upon the facility’s request.

Certificates of additional insured may be issued to a facility on a limited basis for the purposes of an ongoing, Pet Partners branded therapy animal program. Certificates of additional insured are not available for one-time events. For our insurance provider to issue a certificate of additional insured, the facility needs to sign a mutual indemnification contract with Pet Partners. The contract language will be approved by all parties. After a fully executed contract is received by Pet Partners, we will forward to our insurance provider the request for issuance of a certificate of additional insured. We strongly suggest you allow 4-6 weeks for coordination of this process prior to the planned start of the program.

Recruit Volunteers

Now that you have a structure for therapy animal visits, you can begin to identify potential volunteers. Through the Pet Partners website, you can post a volunteer opportunity. By entering basic information about your specific volunteer opportunity you create a listing that becomes searchable to all our registered therapy animal teams across the country. Interested volunteers in your area will be able to contact you directly.

You can also check the Community Partner Directory to see if there are any active groups of volunteers in your area and contact them to express interest in starting therapy animal visits.

Caring Companies

Do you have a special request where you would like Pet Partners teams to participate at your upcoming corporate convention, industry expo, employee event or something similar? Contact Katie Kasten to learn more.