ABOUT US

Learn about our history and mission.

OUR VISION, MISSION & CORE VALUES

Gypsy at Nemours

OUR MISSION

The mission of Therapy Animal Coalition, Inc. is to help grow the number of therapy animal teams volunteering in therapeutic, educational, and other special environments. To accomplish this we will:

  • Educate the public on how to become a therapy animal team
  • Facilitate volunteer opportunities for registered teams, fostering a sense of community and providing continuing education.
  • Assist facilities and organizations to start therapy animal programs

INTEGRITY

We remain true to our mission and are committed to being a careful steward of the gifts of time, talent and funds entrusted to us.

 

COMMUNITY

With vision and a spirit of connectivity, we strive to engage our constituent groups to ultimately serve the patients, residents, children and others who benefit from animal-assisted interactions.

INCLUSIVENESS

It is our belief that we best serve those who benefit from animal-assisted interactions when constituent groups work together - and not in competition - with one another.

OUR VISION

To be the leading resource for sharing the healing love of pets.

OUR STORY

It started with a problem.
Doesn't it always?
The problem?

The number of therapy animal programs was growing faster than the number of registered therapy animal teams to fill them (and it's still the case).

A few of us started meeting to brainstorm ways to increase the number of registered therapy animal teams. Our group included people running therapy animal programs, therapy animal volunteers and professional dog trainers.

Our first big idea?  The Therapy Animal Expo that brought together under one roof everything a person would need to become a registered therapy team and volunteer with their pet.  The crazy thing?  We thought we’d be lucky to get 100 people to attend the Expo – 250 people showed up!  Right then, we knew we were on to something!  At that time, we called ourselves Northeast Florida Therapy Animals.

Therapy Animal Coalition was born in February 2017 when we became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.  We chose the name to demonstrate our culture of inclusiveness.  We believe that much can be accomplished when we work TOGETHER:

  • All therapy animal registering organizations
  • Facilities and organizations with therapy animal programs
  • Professional dog trainers and dog training organizations

After all, our end goal is the same…more therapy animal teams touching people’s lives

READ MORE

We realized that registered teams were hungry for continuing education, and aspiring teams wanted to learn more about pet therapy.  So we launched a popular Speaker Series to fill both needs.

The annual Therapy Animal Expo is our signature event, hosting nationally- and internationally known speakers, including:

  • David Frei, the longtime voice of the Westminster Kennel Club, and current co-host of The National Dog Show presented by Purina; breeder, owner, handler and judge of purebred dogs for more than four decades; author; and pet therapy volunteer.
  • Steve Dale, an award-winning author and syndicated columnist; host of two nationally-syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute; and former host of Animal Planet Radio.

We’re making a difference!

Before Therapy Animal Coalition


 

 

Today


     

· About 120 therapy animal teams in Northeast Florida.

 

· More than 200 active therapy animal teams, a 64% increase.

     

· Aspiring teams had to figure out on their own how to become involved in pet therapy.

 

· We provide the steps and resources to make volunteering a reality.

     

·  Registered therapy animal teams had to cold call or search to find a program to volunteer.

 

· We not only provide a list of available programs, we assist the volunteer with finding the right match for them and their pet.

We aren’t even close to doing everything we have set out to do!

WHAT WE DO

It may seem like a simple mission, "to help grow the number of therapy animal teams".  How do we fulfill our mission? By also fulfilling our vision: to become the leading resource for sharing the healing love of pets.  Let's break down our mission statement and help you understand what it is we actually do...

EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ON HOW TO BECOME A THERAPY ANIMAL TEAM

We use a multi-faceted approach to educate the public about this wonderful volunteer service:

  • Our annual Therapy Animal Expo brings together all the resources a person needs to become a therapy animal team.
  • Our Speaker Series provides learning opportunities for aspiring teams and already registered teams alike.
  • Train the Trainer is an educational series for professional dog trainers. This program, currently in development, will assist these professionals in providing the type of training needed to prepare dogs for therapy work.
  • Informational meetings are designed to guide aspiring teams through the process of becoming registered therapy teams.
  • Proactive media enables us to share stories about the wonderful work of therapy animal teams to increase interest in becoming involved with pet therapy.

FACILITATE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR REGISTERED TEAMS

Finding the right volunteer opportunity – for the volunteer and the pet – is an important aspect of pet therapy.  We have the relationships and the tools to assist volunteers with finding the right match.

  • We have first-hand knowledge of many local therapy animal programs and their requirements. We are happy to provide individual guidance to members seeking volunteer opportunities.
  • Our Facebook Community Group page is a tool used by facilities and organizations to recruit teams.
  • Our member e-newsletter includes information about volunteer opportunities.
  • Our proposed volunteer database will enable facilities and organizations with therapy animal programs to post their own listings. Registered teams who are members of Therapy Animal Coalition will have these listings at their fingertips to find the perfect match for them. Stay tuned as we work toward making this tool a reality.

ASSIST FACILITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO START THERAPY ANIMAL PROGRAMS

No program?  No problem!

We have served in an advisory capacity to numerous local organizations about starting effective, responsible therapy animal programs.  Here are a few:

Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville

 

Nemours Children’s Specialty Care

Baptist Medical Center South

 

Oak Hill Academy

Brooks Rehabilitation

 

St. Vincent’s/St. Catherine Labouré Manor

Buddy Break

 

UF Health

Jacksonville International Airport

 

Numerous elder care/memory care facilities

Our future vision is to build a “tool box" via an interactive website that will provide a road map to any facility or organization wanting to start a therapy animal program.

2019 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

KRISTI LEONARD

Board Chair

LORI COLEMAN

Vice Chair

JULIE KRAPF

Secretary

BONNIE GOLDSMITH

Treasurer

MARY HARVEY

Communications Director

CHRIS WHITNEY

Events Coordinator

SHARON ANDRADE

Membership Chair

CHARLES BLACKWELL

Development Director

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