Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy About Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy    



~  Rainbow  ~  AAT  ~  Programs  ~  Training  ~  Mission  ~  History


Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, the largest and oldest organization of its type in the Chicago metropolitan area, is a volunteer organization committed to using the capabilities and magic of dogs in therapeutic environments, especially with children.

All of our programs develop and build essential skills, give the children a focus other than their disability or disease, and provide a happy respite from the rigors and challenges of their daily lives.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is the utilization of animals to facilitate healing and rehabilitation. AAT programs are goal-oriented, unlike programs where an animal and its owner/handler simply visit patients or residents. AAT also differs from programs involving assistance, service, or companion dogs, where animals are placed with individuals as a part of their daily life.

Rainbow Programs

Snow playing pianoChildren with special needs will often perform tasks for trained dogs that they would not ordinarily do for anyone else. Rainbow’s AAT programs build on this unique bond between dogs and humans to meet specific goals.

Rainbow works with organizations to identify goals for children. The goals may be oriented to emotional growth, such as self-control; physical skills, such as reaching for or grasping objects; or growth in skills, such as reading. Rainbow’s dogs provide powerful motivation—and a lot of fun!

Rainbow is active in hospitals and health care facilities, residential centers, schools and libraries, and parks and camps. Our programs are provided without charge, although donations are always appreciated. See Programs for more detailed information.

Crisis Response imageRainbow Testing and Training

Our volunteers work with their own dogs. Since Rainbow works with children, many of whom are sick or have special needs, it is vital that the dogs are well-mannered and behaved. Rainbow members must therefore pass a registry test to participate, and are tested annually to ensure that both dogs and handlers retain their abilities to handle potentially difficult situations.

Rainbow offers classes to potential new members to help them build therapy-oriented skills and learn how to handle their dogs effectively in various therapeutic environments. Additionally, regular “drop-in” classes are held for Rainbow volunteers to refresh and hone their skills further. See Classes for more detailed information.

Our members are insured for liability when participating in Rainbow programs.

Page top
Page top


Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy is an organization that works with trained, registered therapy dogs to help people, especially children and those with special needs, to improve their health, activities of daily living and quality of life.

We are volunteers working with and handling our own dogs.

  • We develop training and registration programs to prepare dogs and handlers.
  • We work in facilities such as schools, hospitals, residential centers, and park districts throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
  • We develop programs to meet the needs and goals of each facility.

Page top

History of Rainbow  

Rainbow was started in 1987 by a group of seven dog owners including Nancy Lind, current President and Executive Director of Rainbow AAT. Nancy, who spent many years as a special education teacher, became aware that animals were not being used at all as a therapeutic aid for special needs children. She and the other owners trained their dogs to do therapy work with children.

Using specially-trained therapy dogs with specific education, recreation, and motivation goals was a magical combination! It was soon evident to the original founders that even children with problems respond to the non-judgmental attention of a friendly dog.

Red Dog
Nancy Lind

In 1990, Rainbow began regular sessions for the Chicago Park District in their special education programs at park locations across the city.
  • Demonstrations were given at dog shows and expositions, where special kids were proud to show off their ability to interact with the Rainbow dogs.
  • In 1996, Rainbow became a Corporation and is registered as an Illinois 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
  • In 1998, Rainbow began a program at Special Education school in Chicago.
  • In 1999, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago, began a Rainbow program with a goal directed basis.
  • Rainbow founders also encouraged other dog owners and dog clubs to start their own pet therapy programs. Over time, this exposure led to more and more organizations and facilities requesting demonstrations and programs to work with the Rainbow dogs.

From one program in 1987, Rainbow currently services the city of Chicago and the surrounding 5 county metropolitan area in over 155 different therapeutic programs, reaching more than 1000 children per month.

~ AAT ~ Programs ~ Training ~ Mission ~ History

Page top

| About | Membership | Programs | Crisis Response Unit | Donate | News | Classes | FAQs | Links | Contact | Home | Members Only |

Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, Inc. is an Illinois 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

© 2017 Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, Inc.

Website by Hannah Jennings Design