How to Get Involved

We expect the therapy animals in our program to be polite and have good manners, but the outstanding quality of a therapy animal is they genuinely enjoy meeting new people and actively seek out their affection.

Not Just for Dogs!

While dogs may be thought of as the most common type of therapy animal, ARL’s TheraPets program also assesses cats, birds, rabbits, and other small animals.
All types of pets have comforting abilities and can make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Basic Program Requirements 


  • At least one year of age and lived in your home for 6 consecutive months
  • On a parasite prevention program, plus annual intestinal parasite screenings
  • Annual physical exams performed by a licensed veterinarian
  • Current on all required vaccinations (as applicable per species)
  • Not be fed raw protein of animal origin, nor live in a household where this is practiced


  • Minimum 18 years of age (minors 16-17 yrs. can be junior handlers if accompanied by parent/guardian)
  • Attend ARL TheraPets Program training workshop (without your pet)
  • Have own reliable transportation
  • Pass the TheraPets Assessment* with your pet

*Our assessment process meets international standards for animal assisted interventions. All potential volunteers must pass this rigorous evaluation with their pet to become certified as an ARL TheraPets Team.

If you think that you and your animal could be a great addition to our group, join us at an upcoming workshop and submit an application!

TheraPets Application

The full procedure to become a TheraPets volunteer can be read here.

What if I qualify for a Service or Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
The ARL recognizes the companionship and comfort an animal can give. We are happy to work with you through our normal adoption process and procedure if you're looking for an ESA. However, we do not provide certification nor training for any type of assistance animal.

TheraPets are not service/assistance animals. Rather, they are ARL volunteers’ personal pets that are invited into both public and private places to provide comfort, relaxation and enjoyment to others. To learn more about the difference between pet therapy animals and service animals, including ESAs, click here.