Therapy Animals of Western New York (TAWNY)

TAWNY began in the summer of 2010 through the dedicated work of a group composed of veterinarians, local rescue group members, folks who were already working with certified therapy animals, and other interested parties. TAWNY does not certify or train animals to work in a therapeutic setting; rather, we seek to:

  • recruit the handlers of well-behaved, healthy animals and provide information about local training for both handlers and animals in best practices in animal assisted activities
  • provide information on local certification tests for therapy dogs
  • create a library of the most current information about best practices in animal assisted activities for local agencies, hospitals, schools and other organizations seeking therapy animals.

What is a therapy animal?

A therapy animal is a well trained, well behaved animal that has been deemed healthy by a veterinarian, is clean and enjoys regular social activities.  Therapy animal species may be dogs, horses, cats or birds, although therapy dogs are the most common. A therapy dog should be certified by one of several national organizations.

What is the purpose of animal assisted activities?

There is now a large body of scientific evidence that proves that animal assisted activities improve human health on all levels from the physical to the emotional.  All human and animal participants in these activities have measurably improved quality of life.

What do therapy animals do?

Therapy animals visit agencies, hospitals, schools and other human service organizations and interact with the residents, patients, clients and students.  Sometimes the animals participate in organized activities and other times they socialize with people informally. The unconditional love exhibited by dogs and other animals has a healing effect on all.  Here in Western New York therapy dogs are now actively visiting people at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, other nursing homes and healthcare facilities, as well as senior apartment complexes.




Last updated: 12 October 2020