Pet Partners® is the nation’s largest nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing Animal-Assisted Interventions. With the highest caliber curriculum in the industry, Pet Partners® trains volunteers and evaluates them with their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, veterans’ centers, hospice, Alzheimer’s facilities, courtrooms, schools and other settings.
Pet Partners® offers our teams superior risk management and the industry’s highest safety standards, continuing education and re-registration and keen attention to dealing with our unique multi-species team population. People and animal volunteer teams are the heart and soul of Pet Partners’ Therapy Animal Program.
Therapy animals aren’t just dogs. Cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, birds, llamas and alpacas, guinea pigs and even rats are eligible for evaluation through the Pet Partners program.
As a national organization, Pet Partners® believes in a community-based partnership which provides support and structure for teams across the country. The local partnership (organized group of Pet Partners® teams) is known as a Community Partner of Pet Partners®.
ABLEPaws, Inc, 501c3 is the central Arkansas Pet Partners® Community Group.
- It is governed by the Policy and Procedure of Pet Partners® and a Board of ABLEPaws members. The Board meets monthly and is open to all members to attend.
- Helps others to become Pet Partner® teams by sponsoring Pet Partner® Handler Workshops and Pet Partner® Evaluations four times a calendar year.
- Provides General Membership meetings the third Tuesday of every other month on odd numbered months. They are usually dinner meetings at local restaurants or for special events announced in advance. The meetings include a brief business meeting, an educational program and an opportunity to network with other Pet Partner handlers.
- Maintains a relationship with a number of local hospitals, treatment facilities, and non- profit organizations to assist them in developing and/or maintaining their Animal Assisted Therapy/Activities programs.
- Participates in community special events such as grief camps for children, suicide prevention events, dog safety training for young school age children, community group presentations.
- Provides Mentoring, Education and Networking opportunities for those interested in becoming Pet Partners by assisting new teams in locating places for volunteer visits and providing, if desired, opportunities to have a mentor to assist in beginning the process.
- Provides an optional Paws n’ Practice in which prospective teams can practice the skills necessary to become a Pet Partner team. These practices offer a designated time for an individual team to practice in the presence of and receive feedback from experienced Pet Partner Handlers
- Provides Mentoring, Education and Networking opportunities for those interested in becoming Pet Partners
- Six dinner meetings a year provide an opportunity to network with other Pet Partners® and receive ongoing education and information.
- Dinner meetings are held uneven months on third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. with place to be announced.
- Voluntary participation in community events which involve animal assisted activities and opportunities.
- Occasional social ABLEPaws events
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTWant to Become an ABLEPaws member?Download and print our membership application form [HERE].Send back your completed forms along with the membership fees to: Mary Armstrong, President
323 Center Street, Suite 1800Little Rock, AR 72201Contact Us
- Assist organizations in developing Animal Assisted Therapy programs
- Assist (see Visiting Locations section) in matching the facilities and teams
- Participation of ABLEPaws teams in special community events such as:
- Camp Healing Hearts (a summer camp for children experiencing grief issues)
- Therapeutic Arts Festival (a Festival Day for children with special needs)
- Providing stress relief for university students during finals
- Special Olympics statewide meets
- Family Appreciation Day at Little Rock Air Force Base
- Summer Day Camp for youth with special needs
Provide Community awareness and education through speakers, demonstrations, media interviews, etc. Dates and descriptions of these events can be found [HERE] and also at the Pet Partners® website (petpartners.org).
We also offer optional Paws n’ Practice sessions (optional) prior to an evaluation so hopeful teams can judge if they are ready to take the final test.
Once you have become a registered Pet Partners® team, we have many facilities who are just waiting for your visit. Some of our locations in the Little Rock area who are currently looking for teams to visit are described below. Many of these locations require screening, orientations to their individual facility, and background checks before visiting.
There is always something fun going on with ABLE. We have many facilities that are waiting for Pet Partner Therapy teams to visit. Sometimes we just have a good time being with each other.
Below is a list of our current visiting locations:
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH):
ACH started it all with their TAILS program. They knew the importance of animal assisted activities and therapy and the affects that animals have on recovery for their patients. There is nothing like seeing a child’s face light up and the noticeable difference a visit with a pet can make in recovery. Pet Partner teams have volunteer opportunities in the Radiology Clinic on Tuesdays, Playroom on Wednesdays and HemOc clinic on Thursdays. Also ACH often calls on Pet Partner teams to make private room visits to children who have requested a visit.
Arkansas Heart Hospital:
1701 South Shackleford Road, Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 219-7000
Arkansas Heart Hospital is specialty care facility dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The hospital is designed for close patient care with 16 Nursing Pods caring for only seven patients each for a total of 112 patient beds. The Animal Assisted Therapy program began, in conjunction with ABLEPaws (community group of Pet Partners®), in May, 2017.
Following an orientation, teams are welcome to visit any time of day or day of the week. Procedures for visiting are covered during orientation. Staff are always accessible for assistance. Visits will be in individual patient rooms.
Arkansas State Hospital (ASH):
In the PAWSITIVE program at ASH teams visit with adult psychiatric patients in a classroom type environment with staff supervision present.
Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport
1 Airport Road, Little Rock, AR.
In 2018 Clinton National Airport introduced their animal assisted intervention program named Bow Wow Buddies. ABLEPaws Pet Partner teams are present as Bow Wow Buddies on the concourse and baggage areas to bring comfort to travelers. Currently over 25 teams visit the airport.
CHI St. Vincent Rehabilitation Hospital:
Designed to return patients to leading active, independent lives, St. Vincent Rehabilitation Hospital, is a 60-bed acute rehabilitation facility that provides a higher level of comprehensive rehabilitation services.
Good Shepherd Community
3001 Aldersgate Rd., Little Rock, AR 72205
A retirement community with some assistance.
Inspiration Day Treatment:
Inspiration Day Treatment, Inc., JACO accredited and affiliated with NAMI., has a full staff of experienced Mental Health Professionals to help with individual, group and family therapy for adults.
Methodist Family Health Group:
Methodist Family Health Group offers two opportunities for pet therapy volunteers in Central Arkansas. There is the Methodist Behavioral Hospital located in Maumelle, Arkansas and the Methodist Children’s Home near downtown Little Rock. Both facilities are behavioral resident care facilities for children and youth. You and your pet partner will have the opportunity to interact with youths individually and in small groups. These facilities also offer special events such as summer camp programs with involvement by their participating pet partner teams.
Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Health Care System:
Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral HealthCare has provided mental health services to families in Arkansas and surrounding states since 1991. They specialize in programs for children ages 5-17 with individualized treatment for each child. Their mission is to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment and believe that early intervention is key to a child’s success.
Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center
3001 W. Roosevelt Road, Little Rock, AR 72204
This is a youth short term detention facility.
University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS):
UAMS is a unique environment in that you and your pet may visit with a variety of people. The SPOT (Special Pets Offering Therapy) program brings smiles to many patients and families but also to physicians, nurses and other staff member who stop by for a warm furry lift to their day. Though UAMS is a very busy hospital, everyone is excited on pet visiting days. Visitation opportunities are currently available in surgical and ICU step-down rooms on the eighth floor, and rooms in the AntePartum unit on the seventh floor.
Youth Home is a UNIQUE treatment facility where youth and families find hope. It serves emotionally troubled youth from every section of our state. For the past 40 years, Youth Home’s mission has remained the same, helping emotionally troubled youth and families become healthier, contributing members of their communities. Youth Home’s facility is located on 90 beautiful acres in West Little Rock. When visiting the facility, you will find the kids to be inquisitive, fun and very excited to engage with you and your dog. The staff is willing to accommodate your schedule and plan activities that best suit your needs.
In addition to our regular site visits, we are often asked to bring teams for special events such as:
- Therapeutic Arts Festival for special needs children
- Stress relief for college students during finals
- Camp Healing Hearts, a grief camp for children
- Dog Safety for Children
- Animal Assisted READING with children
- Read with Me
We can provide mentors for ABLEPaws members before visiting a facility, so you are confident and have someone to walk you through a visit and introduce you to the facility staff. The ABLEPaws members meet every other month to share their adventures, celebrate victories with our pets and in our families, and listen to guest speakers who are always inspiring and help us serve our facilities better.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The board of ABLEPaws meets monthly with meetings for the General Membership every other month. The General Membership Meetings are dinner meetings at local restaurants. They include a short business meeting and an Educational program. This provides an opportunity to network with other Pet Partners and to assist new teams in getting started.
Provides leadership and support to Board and all Members.
As Group Administrator, Mary oversees all aspects of the group and provides leadership for the group coordinators and members. Mary has been a Pet Partners® team since 2011 with her English Springer Spaniel, Hobie. She says “The work we do with Pet Partners® and ABLEPaws brings me personal fulfillment and brings Hobie pure joy. He gets so excited when he sees the vest he wears to visit and dances until he is in the car.” This team visits at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Our House Homeless Shelter, and many independent events. Mary and Hobie became a HOPE Crisis Response Team in 2015. I look forward to helping ABLEPaws become an even more important part of our community. In her other life, Mary was an educator in the public schools for 35 years before retiring to care for aging parents and devoting more time to work with ABLEPaws and Pet Partners®.
Serves as the contact person for facilities with existing animal assisted intervention programs and those requesting program development. Teaches Pet Partner Handler Workshops. Manages Paws n’ Practice to coordinate with Handler Workshops and Evaluations.
Georgann began as a Pet Partners Handler in 1996. And is now also Instructor and Evaluator. Standard Poodle, Edge, is her 5th and current Pet Partners. In addition to Pet Partners visits, Edge is “co-therapist” in Georgann’s Social Work Private Practice and “assistant instructor” at UALR Graduate School of Social Work when Georgann teaches the elective “Animal Assisted Therapy in Social Work Practice”. They also participate in Agility “for fun. She says, “The human-animal bond is such an important force in our society that it is an honor to practice and share about it in so many ways.”
Georgann and her husband Ben, also a Pet Partners member, live with Edge and their other two dogs, Terrier “Benji” mix, Hank and Cardigan Corgi, Scout. They have a “blended” family of six grown children and nine grandchildren so life is “busy” but fun. In June, 2014 Georgann and Edge became a HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response team.
Manages all financial matters for the group, as requested by the Advisory Council.
Larry and his Blue Tick Healer, and best friend, Clyde (Australian Cattle Dog) are life-long residents of Little Rock. Larry found Clyde on the streets back in 2008. Clyde is about seven years old. Larry works as a capital budget analyst for Verizon Wireless and Clyde’s occupation is guarding the home front and keeping an eye on things in general. In addition to supervising Larry, Clyde watches over an elderly cat Larry has and a rabbit Larry somehow inherited from his daughters. Larry’s daughters are teenagers living in VA – one is set to enter college this fall and the other is a junior in high school.
I love the ABLE Paws’ mission and the joy this program provides to people. I can only imagine myself in others’ shoes to truly understand the happiness it must bring people in need of a visit from a four legged friend. Clyde and I have made a few visits, and in doing so, determined our best fit is places with a one or two on one resident to pet ratio. He has a sense for people in need of some picking up. I know he’s always there to do that for me. Call me strange, but Clyde has so many qualities we seek in people, not just a pet: devotion, loyalty, obedience and empathy to name just a few.”
Maintains corporate records and all minutes of both General Meetings and Board Meetings. Facilitates and responds to Memorials given to ABLEPaws.
Ben is retired from the Transportation Industry and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife Georgann and is “owned by” three dogs (Hank, Edge and Scout). Ben is a Pet Partners member and visits with his standard poodle Edge and enjoys Agility with (Cardigan Corgi) Scout. Hank (All American) maintains control of all. In June 2014, Ben became a certified Team Leader for HOPE AACR (Animal Assisted Crises Response) a group that responds to crises situations and disasters and offers Hope and Encouragement through Animal Assisted interaction. In addition to activities with his dogs, Ben enjoys activities with his six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Manages all aspects of Pet Partners Evaluations. Maintains list of member registration expiration dates.
As Evaluation Coordinator, Amy is responsible for all aspects of planning and executing the Pet Partners Evaluations. This includes initial contact with “hopeful” new teams; the schedule for Evaluation Day; and recruitment and training of the many volunteers required for each evaluation.
Amy has been a registered handler with Pet Partners since 2009 with her long coat Chihuahua Tyler, Currently, they visit Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Center, Towbin VA Healthcare Center, and Woodland Hills Assisted Living Facility. Amy is a licensed Pet Partners Instructor and Evaluator and enjoys meeting and mentoring new Pet Partners teams. In addition to her work with ABLEPaws, Amy is the Arkansas State Coordinator for HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, which she and Tyler joined in June 2014, and serves as Secretary for Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ARVOAD). She enjoys helping as a social media moderator for ABLEPaws and HOPE AACR.
Amy works at UAMS in the Myeloma Institute doing cancer research through laboratory science and clinical trials. She enjoys spending free time with her family and fur babies and is an avid Call of Duty gamer on PlayStation.
Recruits new members and coordinates their orientation with the Facilities Coordinator. She recruits volunteers for events and communicates with the general membership as needed.
TJ lives in Beebe with her husband and their fur babies. TJ’s Pet Partner is a border collie named Bella. They visit regularly at AR Children’s Hospital and UAMS. Their favorite visit is simply every visit! Pet therapy began as a hobby but has become a way of life. It is very addicting. When statements are made from parents such as, “That’s the first time my child has smiled in days” or “That’s only the second time I have heard my child chuckle,” it’s that moment you realize your job was successful. A dollar figure can’t be placed on that kind of success. Medicine comes in all forms — sometimes on 4 paws with fur.
Organizes and oversees community fundraising, service events, and group social events
Nancy states, “This position covers a wide variety of areas, of which one is fundraising.” She loves to find an event that is fun for all and raises money at the same time. She see it as a win/win. Nancy also oversees “Pawtales” where we share our experiences with Pet Therapy visits, so we can all learn from one another, and “PetTips” where we share useful information that each team may someday need.
Although having grown up in Massachusetts, being part of an Air Force Family gave way to living in 9 states, Jacksonville, Arkansas has been home since 1995. Besides her two Vizsla fur babies/Pet Partners Kobi and Sadie Mae, Nancy has two grown sons and two beautiful granddaughters.
Vanessa has been a Pet Partners registered handler since 2016 with Boom Shocka Locka, a Borderdoodle. Boom was only 1 year old when the team passed the evaluation. In addition to visiting, they enjoy playing fetch, mind games, performing tricks and participating in Agility for fun. Vanessa says watching him connect with clients no matter the age or situation has made her realize how important this work is to people in need of comfort. “I thought my job during visits was to direct every moment when in reality my job is much simpler. I drive the car, hold the leash, introduce Boom to the client and let him do the rest.” Every time we park the car before a visit I tell him the same thing. “Let’s go make someone’s day a little better.”
Vanessa lives in North Little Rock with her husband Jimmy, Boom Shocka Locka and Maximus Kalel (lab mix rescue). They have two grown children, Bradley and Emily. The house becomes loud and busy when they visit. Emily brings Timber Tyrell (lab mix) and Bradley brings Colt Rakeem (German short haired pointer). In July 2016, Vanessa and Boom became a HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response team.