Who are you?
My name is Abby Chesnut and I'm a retired therapy rat handler. Yes, you read that right! I started Healing Whiskers as a blog to show our adventures and to bring more awareness to therapy rats. I've had three therapy rats: Oliver, Vincent, and Franklin who visited schools and libraries for finals destressing, reading programs, and public events. Along the way, we changed people's perceptions of rats, both locally and globally, and made people smile, which was my main goal.
What's Pet Partners?
Pet Partners is one of the largest and most diverse national non-profit therapy animal organizations and are the reason why I was able to do therapy work with rats.
They register dogs, cats, llamas, alpacas, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and rats! Pet Partners provides education for teams looking to visit in both typical and unique environments like emergency situations and interacting with Alzheimer's patients.
Pet Partners is the biggest advocate for therapy animal work and they help bring a spotlight to its importance by providing research on the impact of the human-animal bond.
What do you mean by "registering"?
So any animal and handler can approach a hospital and say they are a therapy team. But a team that is registered through Pet Partners...
- Has had the animal looked at by the vet and confirmed healthy
- Has liability insurance just in case of any injuries
- Has had training and both the handler and animal have passed a species-specific therapy animal evaluation that is renewed every 2 years
Yes, there is a test for therapy rats! It's very thorough and it is done that way because you never know what kind of situation you may get into when visiting.
Pet Partners focuses on YAYABA (You are your animal's best advocate) and I've taken that to heart. During visits, I would constantly focus on my rat and keep watch for any signs of stress.
Why are you fundraising?
Pet Partners is special and to help keep rats on the radar I am fundraising in memory of one of my late therapy rats Vincent. He volunteered just about 100 hours of therapy work in schools, libraries, and public events meeting close to 1000 people. We even participated in a Read With Me program where kids would read to him in order to build confidence.
Why should I donate?
Donations help Pet Partners continue with research and education while increasing awareness which in turn brings in more therapy animal teams that help people in need. And that means the possibility of more therapy rat teams!
I'd love to see more therapy rat teams and Pet Partners is the only organization that registers rats.
How do I donate?
Even if you can't donate right now, we would love to have you on our team to help spread the rat love. It's completely free and we get special points for recruiting people and which is always helpful!
Last year, we raised $1,285! I would love to beat that this year!
This event lasts from February 1st to March 15, 2023
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