Unusual Pets Offer Comfort, Cheer
Therapy animals include birds, pigs, llamas—even rats
Thanks to their companionship, loyalty and ability to comfort us, dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” However, other types of animals also fulfill that role—such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and even miniature horses. They, too, can provide comfort and assist with issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Pet Partners, based in the state of Washington but working on a national scale, connects people with the healing power of animals—which the organization refers to as “therapy animals.” It is at present the only national therapy animal registry organization that registers the following: dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, birds, pigs, guinea pigs, llamas and alpacas, and even rats.
The registration process is based on research demonstrating the suitability of those species for animal-assisted interventions. “We very much support a variety of species as both pets and therapy animals to meet a range of needs,” explains Elisabeth Van Every, marketing and strategic partnerships coordinator for Pet Partners.
Brenda Daniels of Estero has a couple of parakeets. “They sit on my finger and ‘talk’ to me and one another. They know how to cheer me up,” she says.