A ground-breaking conference for individuals, organizations and institutions involved in the certified therapy dog movement will be held November 19 at Rowan University’s Wellness Center in conjunction with the annual National Dog Show.
The National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., will be a forum for therapy dog practitioners, advocates and aspirants from the Mid-Atlantic Region plus members of the veterinary community to share information and develop best therapy practices.
The program, which will be held just after the annual Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s (KCP) National Dog Show November 16-17 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, is open to the public. The cost is $35 per person and registration is available at go.rowan.edu/therapydogsymposium.
Symposium organizers include David Frei, co-host of The National Dog Show Presented by Purina Thanksgiving Day on NBC; Scott Woodside, Rowan’s director for Student Health Services; and Michele Pich, assistant director of The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program at Rowan and an adjunct professor and research associate at the University.
The symposium will be held in tandem with the launch of The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, which was funded this year through a $3 million gift from Gerry Shreiber, president and CEO of J&J Snack Foods of Pennsauken.
Shreiber, who will address the symposium, previously funded pet therapy programs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and at Virtua Hospital locations in New Jersey through his nonprofit, the Shreiber Animal Foundation Enterprise.
Frei, an internationally known canine expert and a member of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, is a longtime leader in the therapy dog movement. For 27 years he was the face and voice of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA Network and founded the therapy dog nonprofit Angel On A Leash. He introduced therapy dog visitation to multiple major New York City healthcare facilities, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Frei also developed and co-hosts the Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina in April on NBC.
“The use of certified therapy dogs in healthcare environments has expanded steadily over the past couple of decades,” said Frei. “There is so much scientific research supporting the benefits of the practice that the time has come to bring people together to facilitate additional growth.”
Pich, a member of the National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team with her Staffordshire terrier mix, Vivian, since 2012, has long worked with the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as veterinary grief counselor and taught a course in the human-animal bond. She is the former co-director of the VetPets Animal Assisted Activities at Penn Vet and held advisory roles with the therapy dog program at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia animal-assisted prisoner re-entry nonprofit, New Leash on Life-USA.
Frei and Pich are certified presenters for Continuing Education credits via the Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). Veterinary industry employees can get Continuing Education credits for attending the symposium.
Sponsorships are available by contacting Steve Griffith of National Dog Show Charities at firstname.lastname@example.org.