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Become a Therapy Team

Looking to become a registered therapy team? Here is some information that will help you understand more about therapy animals and the process involved.


Human-animal bond: There is a beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both. This bond is the unconditional love and acceptance that pets give their owners. The other half of that bond is the love and affection that people have for their pets; willing to care for, protect and share their lives with this animal. All people need touch and to be loved to maintain quality mental and physical health. Your pet accepts, trusts and loves you. That's why it's so important to share our pets with a lonely or isolated person. The reward are huge. So much research has been done over the years with scientific studies documenting the overwhelming evidence of this connection and its benefits.

Benefits of therapy animals: A therapy animal can help a person with anxiety, depression and increase their interest in daily living. They can inspire wellness, encouraging people to walk and participate in their rehabilitation. The documented effects of therapy animals in medical facilities show decreased levels of pain, anxiety, stress and improved recovery rates. In schools and libraries, therapy animals (ususally dogs) motivate children to improve their reading skills and comprehension. Prairieland helps children in court (when testifying), nurses taking final exams and juveniles in trouble to de-stress.

What to look for in a therapy animal:

  • Calm - able to remain calm, allow people to touch and hug them

  • Confident - able to handle any strange situation with ease

  • Gentle - especially with children or the elderly (no aggression is allowed)

  • Adaptable - able to adjust to new situations and people, moving around medical equipment & tight spaces

  • Intelligent - able to learn basic obedience plus specific commands (e.g. leave it)

  • Likes people - eager to meet strangers in a loving way (children are in a different category)

  • Ignores stimuli - able to focus on handler, when loud noises or other distractions occur

  • Reliable - behavior should be predictable

Animals must be at least one year old when testing. Prior obedience training (mostly for dogs) and socialization is a must. Great therapy animals ADORE people. Animals can sense when someone needs them and can make that emotional connection with them that changes that person's life. Pretty amazing stuff.

Your role as a volunteer and handler requires that your pet be squeaky clean, healthy, nails smoothed and vaccinations up to date. Dress appropriately. Be on time and be responsible for your pet and ensure their safety at all times. Show compassion, be respectful and maintain confidentiality (per HIPPA regulations). Watch you animal's body language for stress signals and excuse yourself if necessary.  More information on pet therapy basics will be added later for those just starting out with visits.

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Prairieland Visiting Animals Association (PVAA) is not affiliated with any national pet therapy group.


Below is information for 2 national pet therapy groups that our members use. Each group has different requirements for joining and maintaining their membership.  You should choose which group works best for you. If you're unsure or just want more information, please send us an email and ask a member for some help in deciding.


By registering your pet, you will have the pride and satisfaction of knowing that you are a professional, have met the high standards of one of these therapy organizations and you will be welcome at more facilities. Both of these groups provide personal liability insurance only while you are volunteering by visiting or attending a special event. Please note: If you are taking your dog to work with you as a working partner, you must have additional insurance. 


If you have any questions, please email PVAA or the contact person listed for a particular group. We will help and guide you through the process of becoming a new pet therapy team. We want you to succeed!


                                                                                                      contact Julie Hoffman -

  • Create an online account -

  • Complete the PP handler's class (in person class cost is $30)

  • Complete the animal screening form with your vet

  • Sign up online for your team evaluation - given locally 3 times a year by PVAA

  • Complete your volunteer agreement & badge photo (can opt into "Read with Me" program & read the manual)

  • Submit application  (copy all docs & put in one file, which can be sent to PP - save one copy for your file)

  • Complete background check after your application is accepted

 ALLIANCE OF THERAPY DOGS  (ATD)      contact Karen Simecka -

  • Go to the website:

  • Complete the Sterling Background Check - under Join - be a member 

  • Email and tell them that you want to become a member and there is no ATD tester in your area

  • Download and print out the ARC packet that ATD sends you

  • Complete the Health Verification Form

  • Schedule your handler/dog evaluation with Karen Simecka

  • Obtain 2 typed letters of reference from non-relatives (a recent CGC certificate may be used in place of one reference letter)

  • Complete all paperwork & questionnaire

  • Submit your New Members Packet to ATD (scan & email)

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