In October 2007, a small group of volunteers decided they wanted to create a new organization exclusively aimed at providing therapy animal teams and services to facilities in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan areas of Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, North Star Therapy Animals (NSTA) was formed.
NSTA is a 100% volunteer organization that has grown to over 125 members, ninety percent of whom are team members with one or more registered therapy animal partners. The other ten percent are individual members that support us in a variety of ways. All of our members are passionate about therapy animal services and the benefits they bring to individuals throughout our communities.
In 2010, we established our first Board of Directors to help the organization with future growth and development. In 2011, NSTA incorporated as a non-profit and was granted tax-exempt status as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Our members are collectively focused on a common purpose that drives our organization. That purpose is to improve the lives of as many individuals in our communities as we possibly can, by providing high-quality therapy animal teams and services to a wide variety of facilities.
Our volunteer teams currently visit over 50 such locations, including hospitals, elder care and assisted-living residences, hospice units, and specialty care facilities such as those serving individuals with autism, eating disorders, or developmental disabilities. Many of our volunteers also visit libraries or schools as part of our North Star Readers program, and several visit families at the Ronald McDonald House.
An increasing number of professionals in the fields of health, education, and human services are becoming aware of how therapy animal services can benefit their existing programs. This increased awareness has caused the demand for these services to increase at a faster rate than the supply of teams, so our greatest challenge is to ensure that the supply of registered therapy animal teams continues to grow so that we can better meet the demand, now and into the future.
We believe that the story of therapy animals and therapy animal services is really just beginning and needs to be a story without an end. As long as there are people, there will be a need for therapy animal services and, thus, a need for therapy animal teams.
North Star Therapy Animals is committed to doing whatever it takes to see that this amazing story continues.