New England Pet Partners, Inc. 501c.3

Enhancing Well-Being and Education with Pet Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Activities (AAA)

Activities are casual (meet and greet) involving pets visiting people. The same activity can be repeated with many people, unlike a therapy program that is customized to a particular person and treatment plan.

Example of AAA:  A team visits a hospital or long-term care facility. Children may interact with and/or pet a dog or cat. Although staff is involved, they have not set therapeutic goals for the interactions, although it is therapeutic. The team signs in and out but is not required to keep records.  

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

Therapy is a goal directed intervention that promotes improvement in human physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive function. It is offered by a health/human service provider with expertise in integrating animals as a treatment modality. This individual or team is a specialist in their field of expertise and knowledgeable about animals, interactions and behaviors in specific environments.  

Example of AAT: A woman recovering from a brain injury has limited speech, standing and walking tolerance. A health care professional (doctor, physical, occupational or counseling therapist) may utilize the presence of a dog (or cat) to motivate the client by holding or standing nearby with a dog, and ask the client to reach (within the scope of ability) to touch the dog. To increase the client’s ambulation or speech compensatory skills, the therapist may ask the client to talk to the dog or walk a short distance. Handlers use a double lead in all visits, walking alongside the client. Records are kept on progress. There is a pre-determined commitment/contract to visit regularly with this client. There is usually a contract and fee-for-service.    

Animal Assisted Therapy can be applied in different settings and with different forms of therapy. Animals can be used, but not limited to, the following treatment settings:  psychotherapy, occupational and physical therapy, recreational therapy, speech and language therapy, in hospitals, prisons, rehabs, mental health clinics, private practice and care/wellness/assisted living facilities, schools and libraries (reading education assistance).

What are the Benefits?


Psychological, Therapeutic and Social:

Speech and Language:


Benefits of PAT

PAT Therapeutic Goals

Infectious Disease Control, Pet and People Handout