The Therapaws Mission

Therapaws of Michigan photo

Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. (Therapaws), a canine-assisted therapy program dedicated to promoting and fostering the human-animal bond in therapeutic and educational settings.

In the spirit of this mission, individual owner-dog teams visit residents and patients in health care facilities and in schools and libraries, providing social, emotional, and physical benefits. A strict screening protocol assures the selection of well- mannered dogs of sound temperament and good health.

Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), a national organization that all Therapaws members must belong to, provides registration, support, and insurance for therapy dogs that are tested and screened according to its guidelines and standards.

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History of Therapaws

Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. (Therapaws) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) all-volunteer organization whose goal is to facilitate healing and provide emotional and social support for those who are hospitalized or residing in a long-term care facility due to an acute or chronic illness.

Therapaws became incorporated as a board-directed organization in January 2001. Its roots go back to 1988 when Susan Fischer and her Golden Retriever "Willie" first began visiting patients at the University of Michigan Health System.

Originally called Therapets, the organization grew and became an outreach program through the Humane Society of Huron Valley. The name was changed to Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. in 2001 and the organization's members became registered members of Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). (Therapaws™ of Michigan, Inc. and its logo are registered trademarks.)

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Therapaws Today

Pet Therapy Team Visits

Today, Therapaws has over 100 teams which visit over 40 facilities in the greater Washtenaw area and beyond. We reach out to our community and communities beyond both educationally and compassionately visiting schools, hospitals and non hospital settings. Our visits touch the very young and the very old as well as all in between.

Therapaws to READ

In 2004, a member of Therapaws became a member of R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), a program launched in 1999 by Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) in a public library in Utah. The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered pet therapy teams as literacy mentors. The R.E.A.D. program improves children's reading and communication skills by making dogs available for children to read aloud to. It was found that the level of reading-aloud confidence scored high in testing individual children involved in this program. Now, dogs are being used for boosting reading confidence in schools as well. (Learn more about ITA's R.E.A.D. program by visiting

Today, Therapaws to READ - our individualized program - is focused in Washtenaw county as well as surrounding counties.

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