Pet Partners Therapy Animals Bring Joy and Healing to Millions


Registered therapy animal teams may include dogs, cats, guinea pigs (shown here), rabbits, domesticated rats, horses, llamas, donkeys, cockatoos, and African gray parrots.

Did you know that King County—specifically Bellevue—is the home of an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving human health and enriching lives through positive connections with therapy, service and companion animals?

Pet Partners, formerly known as Delta Society, was founded in 1977 to promote research on the human health benefits of interacting with pets. In 1991, it created the world's first standards-based therapy animal program. The organization was renamed earlier this year to bring greater public awareness to its mission.

Today, the organization's 11,000 therapy animal teams offer comfort and healing to 1 million people each year across the U.S. and in 13 other countries. Across this nation, more than 72 million families experience health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, reduced stress hormones and better prognosis after illness because of the documented benefits of interacting with their pets.

The Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program trains volunteers; screens volunteers and their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities; and evaluates volunteer therapy animal teams. Therapy animals bring joy and healing to people in need when they cannot be with their own pets or can no longer have pets of their own. The program ensures that "both ends of the leash" are well-prepared to participate in program activities.

Pet Partners' Service Animal Program provides information and resources for people with disabilities who are considering getting a service animal or who are currently partnered with a service dog. Service animals enable individuals with disabilities to live more freely and independently. Pet Partners does not train or place service dogs but maintains a Service Animal Trainer Directory and offers valuable information for prospective owners.

Pet Partners' Companion Animal Program educates individuals and families on the ways companion animals can improve health and well-being in everyday life and documents the health benefits of animals for people of all ages and abilities. The organization also maintains an online Pet Loss and Bereavement Resource Directory.

Information about how people and pets become a registered therapy animal team is available online. Eligible species include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, domesticated rats, horses, llamas, donkeys, cockatoos, and African gray parrots. Pet Partners recently introduced a first-of-its-kind online course for people to become trained to visit with their animals in hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools and other settings.

For more information about Pet Partners, visit the links above or call 425-679-5500.