Mini Conference - Therapy and Facility Dog Programming in Medical Settings: Implementing Best Practices and Navigating Roadblocks 

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AAAIP members: No cost | Non-members: $29


Event Description:

Programs worldwide are integrating therapy and facility animals into medical settings using a variety of models. Some programs depend on paid staff to handle facility animals while others hire program coordinators to facilitate volunteer therapy animal visits. Regardless of the type of programming used, there are best practices available that protect all involved in animal-assisted interventions (AAI) in medical settings. By participating in this mini-conference, attendees will learn:

  • Foundational information about AAI in medical settings, including the differences between therapy and facility animals.
  • How to vet, recruit, and retain volunteer handlers to serve the people in your care.
  • Essential documentation and checklists to inspire buy-in and prepare for joint commission audits.
  • How to structure programming so that both therapy and facility animals are protected, ultimately minimizing the chance of incidents.
  • The best strategies for responding to animal behavior commonly witnessed in medical settings, such as hesitance around medical machinery or positioning for patients with limited mobility.
  • The importance of demonstrating adherence to the field’s competencies at all aspects of program development and maintenance.


Cathy Bennett, Therapy Dog Program Coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina 
Diversifying your Programming by Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Volunteer Handlers  

Whitney Romine, Animal-Assisted Services Coordinator at Mayo Clinic Rochester, Certified Animal-Assisted Intervention Specialist 


Andrew PK Bentley, PhD, Instructional Designer with the Learning Solution Center at the Mayo Clinic.

Documentation, Checklists, and Preparing for Joint Commission Audits
Diane Pekarek, CAIS, C-AAIS, Marion C. Risman & Family Endowed Pet Pals Coordinator, University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center 
Animal Welfare and Risk Management: Promoting Well-Being for Therapy and Facility Animals  
Gina Fisher Caldwell, PhD, Adjunct Professor and Animal Behaviorist 
Responding to Common Therapy Animal Behaviors Encountered in Medical Settings  
Russ Weinberg, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Animal Assisted Intervention, Washington Hospital Healthcare System 
Program Success Story  
Taylor Chastain Griffin, PhD, Executive Director, AAAIP 
Implementing Standards and Competencies within your AAI Program  
Annie Peters, President & CEO, AAAIP 
Professional Development and Next Steps  
C-AAIS Credit Hours
The conference will provide 2.5 C-AAIS credit hours.
Event Questions
For questions about the event, please contact AAAIP.