Many people have wonderful pets they want to share with others. It takes hard work, training and dedication.

It’s important that teams are properly screened and qualified to work with patients and children. They need special skills and education to conduct visits safely and effectively. Here is the process: 

All domesticated animals who can pass the Team Evaluation are eligible to become Pet Partners. Wild or exotic animals – including snakes, ferrets, and lizards – are not eligible. 
The person handling the animal (handlers) must be at least 10 years old. Handlers younger than 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and must have written permission to participate from a parent or guardian. 
People who do not have an animal may also register as Pet Partners. 
All animals except birds must have lived in the owner’s home for at least 6 months. Birds must have lived in the owner’s home for at least 1 year. 
All animals except “pocket pets” must be at least 1 year at the time the animal is evaluated. Pocket pets (guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, etc.) must be at least 6 months at the time the animal is evaluated. 
Dogs trained to aggressively protect and/or encouraged to actively bite may not be Pet Partners. 

Step 1: Your Animal’s Training
We do not train your pet for you. Your pet must already have excellent obedience skills. Put them in school if they are not already trained. Dogs must know the cues to sit, stay, lie down, come when called and leave it. They must walk politely on a leash and not jump on people. 
Both cats and dogs must show no more than a casual interest in the evaluator dog during the Reaction to Another Dog test. They must be social, outgoing and confident in new situations and environments. They must enjoy being touched all over their bodies by strangers. They must enjoy exuberant or clumsy petting without shyness, fear or becoming overly excited so that they could pose a danger to a frail patient. They must not be afraid of health care equipment or loud noises and of course show no aggression to people or other animals. 

Step 2: Your Training
Your next step is to take the online handlers course from Pet Partners ( The fee is $70.

Step 3: Animal Health Screening
In order to become Pet Partners, animals need to be healthy, friendly, sociable, and up-to-date (as required by your veterinarian) on vaccinations. Proof of rabies vaccination and fecal exam with results must be included in your animal’s health screening. 

Step 4: Team Evaluation
Compassionate Paws, Inc. has a Team Evaluator come to Rome, GA to evaluate Pet Partner Teams periodically.  Once the online handler course is completed, the animal is well trained, health screening is done, and paperwork completed, it is time for the Evaluation. The testing takes about 30-45 minutes. The expectations for the testing are clearly spelled out in the Manual. The Evaluation Fee is $35 to the charity of choice of the Evaluator. 

Step 5: Registration
 Register for the exam online at Two year Pet Partner Registration fees vary from $150 - $40. The fee covers your photo ID, pet tag, newsletter and $2,000,000 liability insurance.

Pet Partners Happenings

Introducing Walk with Me

In 2015, the Surgeon General put together a call to action entitled Step it Up! The call to action contains five goals centered around improving Americans' awareness about the importance of walking for physical health and improving the walkability of communities nationwide. As a human-health organization, Pet Partners is invested in addressing the biggest issues at stake in this arena. In response, we're proud to announce the creation of Walk with MeTM, a special initiative to engage therapy animal volunteers and their pets in walking events.

Walk with MeTM is a perfect example of how our out-of-the-box thinking will continue to drive progress in the field of animal-assisted interventions. Thank you for your continued support!

Featured Team

Not Even Epilepsy Can Stop Ruby the Therapy Dog

Pet Partners recognizes epilepsy as a condition and not an illness, which means Ruby is allowed to do her good work as long as her seizures are controlled, she feels well and an emergency plan is in place in the event of a seizure during a visit. Read more about Ruby's remarkable story here

Pet Partners in the News

A Mini Horse Brings Big Smiles to Children

Dequavion Brim, who has cerebral palsy and does not speak, could not verbalize what he thought of Gypsy the Pet Partners miniature therapy horse. But the 13-year-old's big, extended grin after touching the horse's neck and mane in the lobby of Nemours Children's Specialty Care in Jacksonville told his story.
Read more here.