Did you know the goal of National Therapy Animal Day is grounded in advocacy through proclamations and legislation?
In this bonus episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I dig into the goals of National Therapy Animal Day with some incredible guests: Mary Margaret Callahan, Chief Mission Officer at Pet Partners as well as Diane Prange and Connie Priesz, both from North Star Therapy Animals in Minnesota.
Our conversation begins with introductions and a bit about the Therapy Dogs our guests work with. Connie shares stories of her Therapy Dog, Kimber, visiting a range of places from hospitals to libraries, while Diane tells us about the varied volunteering locations of her Therapy Dogs, Myshkin and Nevsky, including the Mall of America and Hennepin Healthcare. These experiences highlight the joy and impact of volunteering with therapy animals through the significant, positive changes these animals bring to individuals and communities.
Mary Margaret has a variety of animals on her farm and gives us insight into her role at Pet Partners, which involves a significant amount of advocacy work. She brings our attention to the importance of advocacy and legislation for therapy animals, underlining the crucial role it plays in ensuring safety for both the animals and people they serve.
We dive deep into the goals and history of North Star Therapy Animals, with Connie explaining how they grew from a small group of dedicated individuals to over 200 members, all registered as Pet Partner therapy teams. The story of North Star Therapy Animals’ growth is a reminder of the power of community in advocacy and how the shared passion and dedication of individuals can influence broader change.
One of the main focuses of our chat was the significance of National Therapy Animal Day. Mary Margaret emphasizes the importance of celebrating therapy animals and their handlers, and the need to raise awareness about the value of their work. We also delve into the topic of proclamations and their role in educating lawmakers about therapy animals. Diane provides valuable insight into obtaining proclamations, emphasizing the need for strong relationships with legislators, clear communication about the impact of therapy animals, and thorough planning.
As we wrap up, Connie, Diane, and Mary Margaret emphasize the rewarding experiences they’ve had in volunteering with their dogs and participating in special events for therapy animals. They also offer advice to those interested in starting a therapy animal team, suggesting resources available through organizations like Pet Partners, and other activities to encourage therapy animals and their owners to get registered.
After tuning into this episode, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the vital role of advocacy, legislation, and community in the world of therapy animals, and perhaps even feel inspired to start creating connections with your own local officials so that next year you are able to get them on board with a proclamation.
In this episode, we discuss …
- Why advocacy and legislation are important for the future of therapy animals.
- What it takes to get started advocating for therapy animal work in your area.
- Why it’s important to work on advocacy as a community or team.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.
- [00:01:19] Connie shares about her therapy dog, Kimber, and the places they visit, including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and more.
- [00:01:52] Diane introduces her therapy dogs, Myshkin and Nevsky, and the places they volunteer, like the Mall of America and Hennepin Healthcare.
- [00:04:02] Connie talks about North Star Therapy Animals’ growth from a small group to over 200 members.
- [00:06:07] Mary Margaret explains the importance of National Therapy Animal Day and the need to celebrate therapy animals and their handlers.
- [00:09:40] Diane shares experiences about obtaining proclamations, underscoring the necessity of strong relationships with legislators.
- [00:15:16] Mary Margaret discusses how setting local legislation standards can ensure safety for people and therapy animals alike through adopting standards of practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions.
- [00:17:46] Mary Margaret shares that this year there were 96 proclamations across different states.
- [00:21:34] Diane and Connie share why they decided to advocate for therapy animals, pointing to an informative session at a Pet Partners conference as a source of inspiration.
- [00:23:52] Connie advises those interested in starting a therapy animal team to share their experiences and use the resources available through organizations like Pet Partners.
- [00:34:24] Mary Margaret encourages anyone interested in advocacy to reach out to Pet Partners for guidance and resources, and invites everyone to celebrate National Therapy Animal Day.
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!
Mentioned in this episode:
- North Star Therapy Animals
- Pet Partners Advocacy
- Standards of Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions
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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.
Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.