Heart to Heart is a 501(c)(3) organization that trains and supports owners and therapy animals to provide therapeutic visits to approved facilities. Our therapy teams offer unconditional love, caring and comfort.
We currently have therapy teams visiting Huntsville Hospital Main and Huntsville Hospital Madison. Our teams visit Regency Rehabilitation Village, Elk River Health & Rehabilitation Center of Ardmore, Magnolia Trace, and Heritage Assisted Living and Memory Care.
We have reading enrichment programs at the Huntsville Inner City Learning Center and at Blanche Elementary School in Taft, Tennessee. In addition to a Read with Me™ team at Madison County Elementary School, we’ve developed a Write with Me program to help reinforce positive behavior choices for their young students. We assess and accept additional facilities to meet the needs of our handlers and of the facility. If you have an idea about a facility you’d like to visit, please let us know.
No therapy animal is required. We need non-handlers to visit with the therapy team in our reading programs, in the Write with Me program as well as on visits at both Huntsville Hospital Main and Madison. Volunteers are always welcome to help with role play during team training, as evaluation assistants, and at community events.
Handler: 18 years of age
Dog: At least two years old and has been in the handler’s home for at least one year.
Spayed or neutered or have earned the AKC title of Conformation Champion.
Completed at least two group obedience classes beyond the Puppy level and approved for the Heart to Heart Intern Training Program.
There is no application fee for Heart to Heart and no fee for the Pet Partners Handler Workshop.
There is a $45 fee for Heart to Heart annual dues that are paid after successful completion of the Intern Training Program and then annually in January. Because we are a Pet Partners Community Group, Pet Partners registration is $50.
Heart to Heart provides uniforms for each graduating team.
Short and long-sleeved polo shirts,
Burgundy socks and masks (when required by the facility),
and waist pack.
Shirts, jacket, and waist pack are monogrammed with the Heart to Heart logo.
Vest monogrammed with the logo and a scarf monogrammed with
the Heart to Heart logo and the animal’s name.
Handler: $45 annual dues to Heart to Heart
Team: Renewing team registration with Pet Partners every two years is $50.00.
Uniform: Khaki trousers or skirt and closed-toe shoes with a closed heel
Appropriate equipment for therapy animal (harness, halter, or collar and 4’ leash)
Assignment of a “Training Buddy” who will be available throughout the training classes and for your first year to answer questions, offer suggestions and support, and be your ‘go-to’ person.
Shadow an experienced Heart to Heart working therapy team.
Three 8-hour In-services:
#1: Pet Partners Handler Workshop: taught by an experienced Heart to Heart handler who is a registered Pet Partners Instructor. This workshop prepares interns for the Pet
Partners on-line assessment
#2: Heart to Heart In-Service:
HIPAA requirements for Confidentiality
Physiological Effects and Benefits of Animal Assisted Intervention
Needs of Specific Populations (i.e. children, elders, clients with dementia, etc.)
Anatomy of a Visit: How to Begin, Conduct and End a Visit
Understanding Dog Behavior: How to read and respond to your partner’s stress signals
#3: Intern team role-play a variety of visiting scenarios
‘Shadow’ two experienced therapy teams and review your observations with your Training Buddy.
Pet Partners Team Evaluation: administered by an experienced Heart to Heart handler who is a registered Pet Partners Evaluator.
Go with your partner to three Heart to Heart Training sites accompanied by a Team Assessment Evaluator, Volunteer Coordinator, and one member of the Board of Directors.
Go with Executive Director to visit your assigned facility to meet staff and review facility policy.
Make at least two supervised visits to your assigned facility.
This is decided over the course of the 12-week training program. There are ongoing conversations between the intern and Heart to Heart staff to be sure each team is assigned to a facility and with a population that the handler and partner will enjoy visiting.
Teams visit their facilities twice a month. More frequent visits can be made to some facilities. Each visit usually lasts 1-1½ hours and is never to be more than 2 hours long. Therapy dogs and equines must be bathed within 24 hours of each visit.
Bi-monthly Handler Meeting: 1-2 hours
Copyright © 2022 Heart to Heart Pet Partners - All Rights Reserved.
Heart to Heart Pet Partners, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 81-2653675
Donations may be mailed to: Heart to Heart Pet Partners, 1015 A Cleaner Way, Huntsville, AL 35805.
Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.