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Therapy animals

Therapy animals provide affection and comfort to members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, elder care, assisted-living, hospice, shelters, schools, libraries, and more. Animals of almost any kind can become therapy animals. Animal Humane Society offers therapy animal classes for dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.

Note: Therapy animals are different from service dogs or emotional support animals. Learn more about these designations in the FAQ section below.

Therapy animal classes offered

Introduction to Therapy Animals

Join us for Introduction to Therapy Animals and find out what it takes to be an animal therapy team with your pet. You will learn what animal-assisted therapy is, how to know if your pet would be a good therapy animal, what training you and your pet need to be an animal therapy team, and how you can get involved with Canine Inspired Change, North Star Therapy Animals, or other therapy visiting program.

This introduction is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, call (763) 489-2217 or email us. Upcoming sessions are listed below. (Humans only. No pets please.)

  • Wednesday, June 10, 7 p.m., Golden Valley Animal Humane Society (directions)
  • Wednesday, July 29, 7 p.m., St. Paul Animal Humane Society (directions)
  • Wednesday, August 19, 7 p.m., Golden Valley Animal Humane Society (directions)
  • Wednesday, September 23, 7 p.m., St. Paul Animal Humane Society (directions)

Therapy Dog Class

Our Therapy Dog Class is open to dogs that have passed the Canine Good Citizen test, and will give your dog practice visiting facilities of your choice (hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, physical therapy centers, and schools) as a therapy animal in simulated situations. Upon completion, your dog will have the skills to join therapy groups such as Canine Inspired Change and North Star Therapy Animals.

A free preview of this class is offered once a month. To register for a preview or for the full class, call (763) 489-2217 or email us.

Therapy animal classes for cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs

Animal Humane Society offers one-on-one therapy animal classes for cats, rabbit, and guinea pigs. As part of this class, you and your pet will go through mock scenarios that are similar to what you would experience in a hospital or school setting. There are 20 visiting exercises that your pet must demonstrate to become a therapy animal. The class will help teach your pet behavior that is reliable, controllable and predictable.

For more information call (763) 489-2217 or email us. Classes are held at the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society site (directions).


Therapy animals are sometimes confused with service dogs (dogs trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities), and emotional support animals (animals that provide their disabled owners with emotional comfort). We put together some FAQ to help answer your questions about these differences.