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What are the benefits of therapy animals?

Light colored dog wearing a bandana

At the end of a long day, who do you go to for comfort? For many people, it’s their pet.

Through ten years of therapy animals in Tubman programs, Tubman has understood that human-animal interaction can bring peace and joy in the moments we need it most. Tubman works with organizations that certify therapy animals to find four-legged volunteers who visit our shelters with their handlers, and sometimes show up for staff too. These registered animal-handler teams provide animal-assisted activities, which involve one-on-one or small group interactions focused on providing comfort and recreation. 

“They brought people together,” Joanie, Senior Manager of Tubman’s Intern & Volunteer Services, remembers. Whether in shelters or the office, people congregate for a break from the chaos of the day. Spending time with therapy animals relieves stress from trauma during the interaction and in the days after. 

“It’s good self-care to pause and experience something in the moment.”

Joanie, Senior Manager of Tubman’s Intern & Volunteer Services

An animal doesn’t have to be certified to uplift us on a bad day. Whether it’s motivating us to get outside for some fresh air, cuddling on the couch, or an excited greeting when we get home, our pets bring joy to our days and are proven to ease feelings of anxiety and depression, according to the Mental Health Foundation. But victim-survivors of domestic violence are often forced to leave their pets behind for their own safety. Nearly 50% of domestic violence victim-survivors delay leaving because of fear for their pet's safety, and nearly 25% return to an abusive situation.

No one should have to go through the pain of being forced to leave their pet behind. That’s why Tubman is building the first shelter in the Twin Cities for the pets of people who are escaping domestic violence. Harriet’s Haven for Pets will provide kennels, safe spaces for families and their pets to relax and play inside and outside, and routine veterinary care. Harriet’s Haven is one more program that will keep families whole during and after violence. 

For more information on Harriet’s Haven for Pets, or to contribute, visit