More than 200 people attended the inaugural Therapy Animal Expo, held Oct. 1 in Jacksonville.
Organized by the newly formed Northeast Florida Therapy Animals, the event attracted more than double the number of attendees organizers were expecting to learn about therapy animal training, registration and volunteer programs.
“The response was tremendous,” said Lori Coleman, a co-chair of the event steering committee. “We believed there was a need to centralize this information and provide a one-stop resource where people could find out not just where to get training and register their pets but also where they could volunteer. The response to our Expo proved we were right about that desire for information.”
Organizers said NEFTA hopes to double the current number of around 125 active, qualified teams that seek out training and registration to become involved in animal-assisted therapy in the next year.
“We believe that interest in animal-assisted therapy is growing,” said Coleman, an evaluator for Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national registering organization. “The response to this Expo confirms we are right.”