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About Therapy Dogs of Johnson County

Our organization, Therapy Dogs of Johnson County, originated in 2006 with one handler and one dog. Maggie Winegarden had a vision of providing therapy through the benefits of the human/animal bond to members of our community via Animal-Assisted activities. Our incorporation was completed in 2011. Originally, our group was associated with the Delta Society, which most recently became Pet Partners.

Pet Partners is the nation’s largest nonprofit that registers volunteer teams of human handlers and their animals. Pet Partners trains volunteers and evaluates them with their pets. They have the highest safety standards, continuing education, and re-certification requirements.


Who We Serve

We currently serve Johnson County and the surrounding areas. Our visits include the U of I Hospital, VA Hospital, various nursing homes, schools (Read With Me Program), The Coralville Library (Read With Me Program) the various U of I Colleges (stress relief) Hospice, R Place, Domestic Violence, Group Homes, and Home visits for those who are Homebound.


What Is A Therapy Animal?

Therapy animals, such as those who participate in the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program, provide affection and comfort to members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, assisted living, and schools. These animals have a special aptitude for interacting with members of the public and enjoy doing so. Therapy animal handlers volunteer their time to visit with their animals in the community.” A therapy animal has no special rights of access, except in those facilities where they visit. They may not enter businesses with “no pets” policies or accompany their handler in the cabin of an airplane regardless of their therapy animal designation. (

What Is An Assistance Animal?

Assistance animals, also called service animals, are defined as dogs (and in some cases miniature horses) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Assistance dogs are considered working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Guide, hearing, and service dogs are permitted, in accordance with the ADA, to accompany a person with a disability almost anywhere the general public is allowed. This includes restaurants, businesses, and on airplanes. (

What Is An Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal sometimes referred to as a comfort animal, is a pet that provides therapeutic support to a person with a mental illness. To be designated as an emotional support animal, the pet must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional for a person with a mental illness. The prescription must state that the individual has an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and that the presence of the animal is necessary for the individual’s mental health.

Per the ADA, individuals with emotional support animals do not have the same rights to public access as individuals with a service dog. Emotional support animals may only accompany their owners in public areas with the express permission of each individual venue and/or facility management. Emotional support animals may live with their owners in locations covered by the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) regardless of a “no pets” policy and may travel with their owners on airplanes with documentation as required by the airline. Although most frequently dogs, other species may be prescribed as emotional support animals. (

How Can I Learn More About Certification?

Is provided by Pet Partners; the length of certification is two years. Certification by Pet Partners is the recognized gold standard. See for complete information.

Therapy Dogs of Johnson County

We are a volunteer therapy dog group, registered by PET PARTNERS


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