Please Note: Our therapy animal teams / volunteers only visit in the greater Tucson, AZ area.
All of our therapy animal teams (a team is one handler/one animal) are registered volunteers with the national non-profit, Pet Partners. Pet Partners is often considered the 'gold standard' of therapy animal programs and has been in existence since 1990.
Some unique aspects to this program are:
- As a registered volunteer, each Pet Partners team is covered by a $2,000,000 general liability insurance policy when they are volunteering as a Pet Partner and abiding by the program's policies and procedures.
- Each handler is required to complete a training course for the human-end of the leash which incorporates elements such as infection control practices, how to interact with various population types (the elderly, people with disabilities, etc.), and how to effectively and safely work with their animal partner around medical equipment and other types of scenarios.
- Each handler/animal team is required to pass an extensive 22-part skills and aptitude evaluation every 2 years to ensure both the handler and the animal are appropriate for this type of work.
- A veterinarian must complete a screening on each animal, documenting that the animal is healthy and appropriate for doing this type of work.
- While dogs make up the majority of therapy animals, we also can register cats, horses, birds, rabbits, and other domesticated species.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can you clarify the difference between Pet Partners and Pet Partners of Southern Arizona? Pet Partners (formerly known as Delta Society) is a national non-profit that was established in 1978 to promote how the presence of animals can improve people's physical and psychological health and well-being. In 1990 they developed their therapy animal program. Today there are over 11,000 active Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team volunteer teams across the globe. Pet Partners of Southern AZ (formerly Therapy Animals of Southern Arizona) is a group of Pet Partners volunteer teams who live in Southern AZ. Pet Partners of Southern AZ (PPSAZ) was established in late 2011 to provide better local support to volunteers and the facilities where they visit.
What are your fees? There is no charge. All of our therapy animal teams are volunteers. We will even provide complimentary education to your staff about the benefits of having a therapy animal program and help you develop a program specifically to meet your needs at no charge.
Our facility requires all volunteers to complete our own volunteer screening and orientation. Is that a problem? Not at all - it is typical for our teams to be what we call 'Dual Volunteers' - volunteers operating under the facility's guidelines/procedures at the same time they are working under the Pet Partners' guidelines/procedures. We recognize that you know what type of people and skills are needed to be helpful in your environment and need to screen and train to those. We also recognize that you probably aren't trained on the intricacies of assessing whether an animal is appropriate to visit - that is where the 'peace of mind' comes in by utilizing registered Pet Partners teams for your therapy animal program.
Who wilI I work with to maintain schedules with Pet Partners volunteers? Schedules are arranged between you and the Pet Partners volunteer directly. However, Pet Partners Therapy Animal Teams should NOT be scheduled for a shift longer than 2 hours, as any longer can be too much stress on the animal. Frequency of shifts are also mutually agreed upon between you and the volunteer - some teams volunteer once a week, some a couple times a month, and others just once a month. You will have total freedom to work with the volunteers directly to determine a schedule that works best for all.
What if someone in our facility doesn't like animals? We understand that not everyone relates to animals - and that's okay. We can help you establish policies and best practices to help ensure everyone's satisfaction. And, of course, we always ask before we approach anyone with one of our therapy animals - who are always on a leash and under the handler's control.
Some people are concerned about bringing animals into our facility in case people are allergic to them. How do we address this concern? This is a common concern but one that has been successfully addressed by many Infectious Disease and other types of departments in hospitals, schools and other public places. All Pet Partners volunteers are trained on preventive measures such as asking people if they would like to visit with the animal prior to getting too close. Animals are also bathed within 24-hours of a visit to minimize allergens / spread of bacteria. Our teams are trained to provide hand-sanitizer for people to apply before and after petting an animal. These are just a few of the 'best practices' implemented to help ensure safe and effective visits for all.
How do I get started? I have many more questions? Contact us and we'll be happy to help. Email facilityhelp@PetPartnersSoAZ.org and someone will be in touch. If this link does not work for you, please copy and paste into your own email. Thank you.
Examples of some of the types of places where Pet Partners Therapy Animal Teams visit / volunteer.
- Assisted-Living Residences
- Alzheimer's / Memory Care Centers
- Hospice Units / In-Home Hospice Care
- In-Patient mental health facilities
- Rehabilitation Centers - working alongside Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists
Interested in Starting a Therapy Animal Program Where You Work?
Ella bringing smiles at Ronald McDonald House. Photo courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Mina, age 7, reads to Misty (with handler Marianne Mitchell at her side.)
Lucy loves her Read to a Dog assignment. Must be her favorite story.