Superiorland Pet Partners to hold free therapy pet handler class at Aspirus Keweenaw

The class covers the rules of being a handler and what's needed to pay attention to for a pet.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 30, 2023 at 11:23 AM EDT
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LAURIUM, Mich. (WLUC) - Superiorland Pet Partners will be holding a free pet handler class next weekend at the Aspirus Keweenaw hospital in Laurium.

The organization works to provide pet therapy opportunities across the U.P. They encourage anyone who thinks their pet has the potential to be a therapy pet to take the class.

“We want to encourage people who have animals that they think would be a good pet therapy dog to take that the handler class, to see if their dog is a good fit to be a pet therapy animal,” said Pet Therapy Handler Kim Pici.

While dogs are a popular choice, cats, rabbits and horses can also be therapy pets. The class covers the rules of being a handler and what you need to pay attention to for your pet.

Pici sometimes works with a therapy dog named Tucker, a goldendoodle, who visits Aspirus patients and Calumet students.

“When you are a handler, you are always in control,” continued Pici. “And the main point of my visits is my priority is always my dog. If I came into the hospital and Tucker was anxious, I would remove him from that situation.”

After completing the class, participants must pass a written test to become a handler. This is followed by a test with your pet to determine if it can be a therapy pet. After completing these requirements, the owner and their pet can become a pet therapy team.

Pici says there are only two teams in the Keweenaw area. One of them is Robin Beale and his golden retriever, Finney.

Beale says they are welcome wherever they go, especially to studying Michigan Tech University students during a visit last week.

“We get wonderful feedback about how visiting with him allows them to de-stress a little bit,” said Beale. “And we hear lots and lots of stories about students’ dogs that are at home, that they’ve been missing while they’ve been at school. And it’s overall an exceptionally positive experience.”

The handler class is on May 6th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested can sign up on the Superiorland Pet Partners website.