ASPCA Therapy Animal Program
Thank You For Your Interest In Volunteering With Your Pet!
The ASPCA is a Community Partner of Pet Partners, a national non-for-profit that aims to improve human health through interactions with therapy animal handler teams. We help carry out Pet Partners' mission by providing a full-service program to residents of New York City who wish to volunteer with their pets. Therapy animals are reliable, controllable and predictable dogs and cats* that enjoy visiting hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms, libraries and other facilities.
*The ASPCA’s program deals with dogs and cats, but Pet Partners registers a variety of other companion animals. We can connect you to an evaluator who has experience with your particular species.
Note: Therapy animals are not service or emotional support animals and are not granted legal rights of access. If you require a service animal, please contact a local member of Assistance Dogs International. If you need an emotional support animal, acquire a relevant letter from your licensed mental health provider. If you’re not disabled, and facing a pet related housing conflict in New York City, these people can help: animalalliancenyc.org
How do I become registered with Pet Partners if I live outside of the New York City?
The Pet Partners website provides information about registration in other regions.
How do I become a registered Pet Partners team through the ASPCA?
- Check that your animal meets the current behavior and health requirements issued by Pet Partners. You may also take this self assessment survey to see if you and your animal are ready to become a volunteer team.
- Submit a questionnaire and a staff member will contact you to discuss the results and explain the process. In the meantime, Create an Account at Petpartners.org so you can enroll in the Handler Course.
- After completion of the Handler Course, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to complete the required health form.
- Once your vet confirms that your animal is healthy and up to date on vaccines, you may schedule your Skills and Aptitude Evaluation with the ASPCA.
- Submit all the required paperwork to Pet Partners online (health form, test score, ID photo and registration fee).
- Receive your registration acceptance letter via email from Pet Partners. The ID badge and pet tag will be on the way in the mail.
- Apply to volunteer with a facility. The ASPCA Therapy Animal Program staff can help you with this.
- Re-evaluate and renew your registration with Pet Partners every two (2) years.
Upcoming Training Classes, Workshops and Evaluations
- Therapy Dog Training Course: Next session will begin Wednesday April 11th, at 7:00 P.M. It runs for six consecutive Wednesdays at our East 92nd St. Adoption Center.
Animal Assisted Activities and Therapy present unique situations, environments, and people for you and your dog. These fun and interactive classes will teach you the handling skills necessary for animal-assisted intervention visits, with a special focus on what you will need to know for your Evaluation.
NOTE: This is a third party program offered by the ASPCA. All graduates will be required to complete the Pet Partners Handler Training Course before their Evaluation.
For enrollment information, please complete this questionnaire.
- Pet Partners Handler Training Workshop- Saturday, April 14th
This one day workshop, taught by a Pet Partners Licensed Instructor, fulfills the Handler Course requirement. This is a learning experience for humans only. During this all day event, you will learn the skills needed to visit safely with your animal in hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms and other facilities. You will also have the chance to observe a mock evaluation and find out what it takes to become a Pet Partners team.
Workshop Students are automatically added to the Evaluation Waiting List and will be notified of the next available time slot via email and/or phone call
When: Saturday, April 14th
Please submit a questionnaire to be placed on our interest list.
Where: Upper East Side
Fee: Please call or email for more information
- Pet Partner Team Evaluations
The therapy animal test is conducted by a Pet Partners Licensed Team Evaluator every month. The Team Evaluation process assesses the animal/handler team; how well the handler interprets and manages the animal's behavior and how well the animal responds to the handler. The main emphasis being that the animal is under control at all times. This process is the safest way to identify acceptable visiting teams.
When: after completing the Handler Course and having your vet sign the Health Screening Form
Where: the ASPCA's Midtown office on Saturdays, and our 92nd Street Headquarters on Wednesday evenings.
Fee: $20.00 in cash or check payable to the ASPCA
Frequently Asked Questions
Once registered, where and what are the opportunities to visit?
There are an ever-growing number and variety of facilities that ask for ‘pet therapy’ on a nearly daily basis. For your convenience, Pet Partners has a Volunteer Opportunity page on their website. The ASPCA can also help connect you to animal lovers in need.
What breed(s) of dog make a good therapy dog?
Any breed or type of dog (or cat) could make an appropriate therapy animal. Temperament and training determines their aptitude, not physical appearance.
I know my dog would be great but he’s not very responsive to my commands. Does he have to do all those skills on the test?
Most dogs are required to reliably respond to all obedience cues on the test, without treats. Very small dogs can be carried and placed on laps for that exercise but still must walk nicely on leash, come when called, and leave it. Consider enrolling in our Therapy Dog Training Class. Next session starts April 11th.
How much does this process cost?
There are options with each step along the way with differing fees and discounts by location and instructor. The total cost from start to finish can range from $180-$495 plus vet fees. This fee is good for 2 years. You’ll pay $70 or $90 at your renewal.
Can my friend/spouse/partner and I both visit with the pet?
Yes, a second handler can register. They are required to complete the handler course and team evaluation. The second handler registration fee is only $30
Can my child/niece/nephew visit with the pet?
Yes, the person handling the animal must be at least 10 years old. Handlers younger than 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during the Pet Partners Evaluation, and must have written permission to participate from a parent or guardian.
Still have a question?
ASPCA Therapy Animal Program
(212) 876-7700 ext. 4426