Becoming a Registered Therapy Animal Team

Thank you for your interest in becoming a registered therapy animal team.

We founded our local Pet Partners organization, Columbia River Pet Partners, with the primary goal of increasing the number of therapy animal teams volunteering in our communities. So needless to say, we would be thrilled to guide you through the process.

It takes a number of steps and a good bit of work to become a registered therapy animal team, and so we created this reading assignment to help you decide if it's something you really want to do. Though we don't mean to discourage you!

The reading will provide an overview of Pet Partners and the steps necessary to become a registered team, and will help you decide if you and your animal are well-suited for this highly rewarding venture.

Hint:  If you have a big heart, a little spare time and a well-behaved animal, you're probably a good fit!

Pet Partners and Columbia River Pet Partners

Getting Started

First, please read this entire page.

Next, read Getting Started with Pet Partners. Be sure to follow all the links and read those pages too, and watch all the videos.

The reading and videos cover the following topics:


 Introduction to Therapy Animals

 Pet Partners Video

 Program Requirements

 Acceptable Equipment

 Handler Course

 Team Evaluation

 Community Partners

 Are You Ready to Begin?

 Attributes of a Great Therapy Animal

 Attributes of a Great Therapy Animal Handler

These topics provide an introduction to the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program, and will very likely answer most of your questions.

Program Requirements

While all elements of the Program Requirements (listed above) are important, here we would like to point out a few which have been key in excluding individuals from participation.

1. Species:  Pet Partners accepts dogs (any breed), cats, birds, guinea pigs, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, horses, llamas, alpacas and rats.

2. Raw Meat Diet:  Animals may not be on a raw meat diet. It's the same concern you have preparing chicken on your kitchen counter, then preparing a salad in the same spot. We don't want our animals' mouths carrying something that could be harmful to our clients, especially when so many have weakened immune systems.

3. Aggression:  Animals may not have a history of aggression, or of injuring either people or other companion animals.

4. 2-Hour Visit Limit:  As our animals must constantly obey us while visiting, the work is stressful for them and our visiting is limited to 2 hours per day.

5. 24-Hour Bathing Policy:  Pet Partners' policy is that your animal should be bathed within 24 hours of a visit and kept clean until the visit. However, there can be exceptions. For example, if you visit frequently, it might be impractical or harmful for your animal to be bathed before each visit. If this is an issue for you, please discuss it with us.

6. No Chain in Collars and Leashes:  Metal chain is not allowed in collars and leashes. It doesn't have the warm, welcoming look Pet Partners would like to project.

7. Pet Partners Teams Visit as Volunteers:  If you are interested in taking your animal to your workplace, please see Can I take my therapy dog to work with me?

8. Pet Partners Teams Do Not Normally Visit Private Homes:  If you are interested in taking your animal to private homes, please see Can a therapy dog visit my relative?

Are you ready to begin your journey to help others?

If you have carefully read the above, followed all the links and watched all the videos, and you didn't see anything to make you think otherwise, you are ready to sign up for the Handler Course.

This assignment has not only given you a valuable introduction to the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program, but has helped to ensure that it is a program you are fully invested in and capable of pursuing. We are confident you will find volunteering with your animal to be rewarding beyond your greatest expectations.

Thank you for your time, and please let us know what we can do to help you.

Peter Christensen
President, Columbia River Pet Partners