Making a difference | Enhancing Well-Being and Education | Sharing our Pets | Pet Assisted Therapy

As defined at About, sharing our pets is a gift we can give, even for a few minutes, when appropriate, to someone who enjoys pets. It is not a substitute for their pets. Helping those in need care for their pets is a generous way to contribute.

There are no registration or certification requirements to share our pets. There is a responsibility to raise awareness and be a keen advocate for your pet and the person you visit. If it makes a positive difference, and your pet enjoys the connection, it can bring joy. If it is too stressful for you, your pet or who you visit, then not so much.

Our strong recommendation is that all pets who visit need to be healthy and have regular wellness checks. They need to be calm, well-behaved (basic manners and socialization) and look to you for guidance in what can be unpredictable situations.

Service dogs can become registered therapy dogs. Therapy dogs usually do NOT have the same access as Service Dogs, unless they are registered as Service Dogs. Service animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. To be protected by federal law, the person must meet the definition of having a disability. To have the right of access with the animal to otherwise, “no pets/animals” areas open to the public, the person must meet the definition of having a disability and the animal must meet the definition of a service animal. If you experience exceptions to this, bravo. As a counselor, who knows firsthand the psychological and emotional benefit of therapy dogs, I believe the differences between therapy, service and other types of support with dogs (emotional, comfort, balance) must be respected. Learn more …

Therapy dogs (animals) are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually personal pets of their handlers, working with them to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied in places of public accommodation that have “no pets” policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.  

Personal Note: I believe that a service dog provides therapeutic benefits to the owner. Should a dog, whose life span may be 10-15, and is usually decreased as a service dogs, be expected to fulfill both job descriptions, it depends on the individual dog. My dogs provide many things to me. My heart-centered knowing is that I would not add any more stress on them beyond what is necessary. I enjoy having them around, healthy, and with opportunities to be dogs.

Companion animal is not legally defined. It is accepted as another term for “pet.”

Social animals have no legal definition. They often are animals that did not complete service animal training, due to health, disposition, trainability, or other factors. They are made available as pets for people who have disabilities. These animals might or might not meet the definition of service animals. Check your State’s policies.

Books, movies and stories abound about the what pets do for us. The therapeutic benefits are easy to find if you have a pet.

Be still for a moment, breathe, and reflect on how living and learning with pets has changed your life. The emotions we feel for our pets is stronger, oftentimes, then that of our human companions. There is a reason that needs to explanation. We know, as the pets know.

Sharing our pets is empowering and humbling. They make us better humans beings by being what we need, when we need it whether it be working with us or providing laughter, touch, motivation, exercise, safety and non-judgmental friendship.

Therapeutic benefits for pet-assisted therapy is researched and documented. Journey to media for a few recommended reads. Visit New England Pet Partners and Benefits of PAT.