Therapy Animal Requirements

Step 1: Disability Certification

Does your dog enjoy people? Would you like to make a difference in your community?  Does your cat, rabbit, or guinea pig always seem to brighten the mood as it snuggles and nuzzles everyone in the room? If you answered yes to these questions then volunteering as a therapy animal team might be just for you.

Almost any animal can be a Therapy Animal. Dog, Cats, Horses, Pigs, Rabbits, Lizards, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, and Goats are just a few examples of animals that add value to their communities.  Cats, rabbits and guinea pigs are in high demand at nursing homes, senior centers, schools, hospitals and other places where therapy animals help make a difference in people’s lives.

Therapy Animals provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities.   Therapy Animals are used for the benefit of a third party.   These animals can help in many ways and are commonly used in the following circumstances:

  • Nursing Home Visits
  • Counseling Sessions
  • Schools
  • Autistic Support Programs
  • And many more!

Therapy animals must have good social skills and cannot be aggressive to animals or people in any situation.  The dog must have polite leash skills including going out for a walk and walking through a crowd of people. Your pet can show interest in people but cannot jump or nip.  Cats and bunnies do not have to act on command, but they should have basic obedience skills and an affinity to strangers. All therapy pets should respond well to loud noises and people approaching.

Therapy animals do not have the same access rights as Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.  Therapy Animals are allowed access to public locations by courtesy. Therapy animals cannot travel in the cabin of an airline for free and are not exempt from pet restricted housing.

It is important for therapy animal handlers to understand the risks involved in being a volunteer.   As a therapy animal handler, you are personally and legally responsible for damages and injuries area caused by either you or your animal.  USServiceAnimals.org assumes no legal responsibility for the actions of you or your animal.

It is recommended that a liability policy be purchased to protect your liability.