The mission of Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU) (UTAH) is to share the comfort, love, hope and healing of the human-animal bond through training, service, education, and research. TAU serves its mission by providing animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activity services free of charge to a variety of clients throughout Utah in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, residential treatment facilities, shelters, schools, libraries, and more. Many of our clients are children who face significant physical and emotional challenges. A large number of the animals in the TAU program have been rescued or sheltered. We believe that these animals – having passed the rigorous Pet Partners evaluation – are among our most compassionate team partners.
The value of animals in promoting healing and growth is well-documented and increasingly recognized among professional care providers, clinical practitioners and educators. What makes our program so unique is that animals, not humans, do the real work. Time and again, our animals have elicited nearly miraculous responses from the clients we serve. Here are just two examples of the extraordinary results our teams’ experience. When a TAU team visited a young man with a traumatic brain injury he was asked if he wanted to see her cat. He shakily nodded his head because he could not speak clearly. The boy began stroking the cat’s back, first with assistance and then on his own. He eagerly agreed to brush the cat when it was suggested and soon began to grin. His parents were in tears, explaining that the boy’s occupational therapist had spent two hours earlier that day unsuccessfully trying to get their son to use his hands. This same cat was introduced to a young boy who had been comatose throughout his hospital stay. After a few guided strokes, the boy opened his eyes to the delight of his parents and caregivers.
TAU is a Pet Partners® Community Partner. Pet Partners is the only national registry that requires volunteer training and screening of animal/handler teams, and is also the only organization of this type that requires therapy animals to be reevaluated every two years to ensure that they continue to be appropriate for their work. Our organization recruits, trains, mentors and supports qualified volunteer animal/handler teams who provide site visits, and also trains healthcare, social service, and education professionals to effectively partner with our teams to enhance their client’s therapeutic experience.
How the Money Will Be Used
In 2016, the Tony’s Crew Award was for $5,000.
In 2015, the Tony’s Crew Award of $5,000 will be used to continue site visits by the Handler-Animal Team to bring comfort, love, and healing through the human-animal bond. Site visits are made to hospitals, schools, residential treatment facilities, assisted living centers and more.
In 2014, the TSF Grant Accelerator Award of $5,000 was used to help expand the Animal & Handler Teams from 66 to as many as 80.