Mission Statement and History
Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) is a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their Therapy Dogs for visitations to institutions, facilities, and any other place where Therapy Dogs are needed.
The use of canines to help mankind is known throughout the world. They have been used for guarding flocks, tracking, hunting, search and rescue, leading the blind, and in assisting the deaf and physically challenged. The bond between dog and man dates back to early history, but it wasn’t until recently that a correlation was acknowledged between this bond and the emotional health of humans. Studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression.
- Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) was founded in 1976 by Elaine Smith.
- The First TDI Therapy Dog Visit took place in 1976 in New Jersey with five handlers and six dogs. Five of the dogs were German Shepherd Dogs and one was a Collie.
- TDI was formed so that dogs could be tested, certified, insured, and registered as volunteer Therapy Dogs.
- The goal of the organization is to unite and increase the number of available Therapy Dogs, give them the recognition they deserve, and to educate facilities about the importance and benefit of Therapy Dog visits.
- The dogs used for therapy work vary in size and type. They may not all be “pure-bred,” but they all have a love of people. All TDI registered dogs have one thing in common. Their owners have discovered Therapy Dogs International and have the unselfish desire to help others, taking time to "Paws Awhile For Love.”
- TDI, which is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, has an office located in Flanders, NJ .
- TDI is the oldest registry for Therapy Dogs in the United States, with dogs working in the US and Canada and some other countries.
- In 1989, TDI was completely reorganized under the direction of the current President, Ursula A. Kempe.
- In 1991, Therapy Dogs International adopted the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test as part of the testing requirements for a potential Therapy Dog.
- In 2013 Therapy Dogs International developed its own test and is no longer using the CGC as part of its testing requirements.
- The future goal for TDI is to continue to bring joy and comfort to those in need, to improve all phases of operations, and to make more TDI dogs available by striving to improve and expand the relationship between TDI, institutions, and individuals in need of emotional service dogs.