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Therapy Animals


Pets as Healers

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Many studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain and anxiety in people with a variety of health and mental health challenges. Animal-assisted therapy uses the human-animal bond to help people relax, decompress, and become more active.

Whether you’re interested in volunteering with Pet Partners or want us to visit your facility, the following information can help you understand what we do — and the science behind it.

Human-Animal Bond


Further Education

Human-Animal Bond


Further Education

The Benefits

The Human-Animal Bond

Improve Physical Health

Spending time with animals lowers blood pressure and increases the production of pain-fighting endorphins.

Improve Mental Health

Spending time with animals reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and releases serotonin, which improves our sense of well-being.

a sense of comfort

Animals offer us unconditional love and affection. For people who are scared, depressed, or in pain, this can be a life-altering gift.

The Research

Backed by Science

Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) has been shown to improve both physical and mental health in hospitalized, geriatric, and institutionalized people. These benefits come from the healing effect of the human-animal bond.

AAI has been used to comfort and assist elderly patients struggling with depression, children with Autism, and patients struggling with pain and isolation. Learn more about how animal-assisted intervention can help improve the health of your community.

Read the Research →

The Terminology

Common Words and Phrases

Just like any specialized area, animal-assisted intervention has its own terminology. Start here to familiarize yourself with some words and phrases you’ll run across often on our website and during your time as a volunteer.

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Is it Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy is a goal-oriented, planned, structured, and documented therapeutic intervention directed by health and human service providers as part of their profession. A wide variety of disciplines may incorporate AAT. Possible practitioners could include physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, or mental health professionals.


To work in animal-assisted therapy, you must register yourself and your animal and complete specialized training to ensure the safety and comfort of both yourself and the client. This process is required.

therapy animal team

When you and your animal work together, you become a Therapy Animal Team! You will accompany your animal to every visit and appointment and act as their handler while they interact with the client.


On a registered team, a handler is the animal’s advocate. They travel with their animal, care for it, and watch over the therapy process while the animal interacts with the client.

team evaluator (te)

A team evaluator is a Pet Partner member who is trained to evaluate teams to determine if you and your animal are ready to work in the field. You must pass the evaluation to become registered and begin visiting.


A volunteer is a person who donates their time and effort for the greater good of their community. You can volunteer with Central Arkansas Pet Partners in multiple ways.


“You Are Your Animal’s Best Advocate.” This is a core principle of Pet Partners. As a handler, your pet’s safety and wellbeing are your first priority.


Further Education

Pet Partners Magazine

Read touching stories about how animal-assisted therapy has changed lives for the better.

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AAI for Professionals

If you’re interested in adding AAI or AAT to your service offering, contact us for more information on partnership.

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More Resources

Learn more about how we’re adjusting our programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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