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National Dog Show, Rowan University to Host Symposium for Therapy Dog Communities

Julia Rivera//October 13, 2021//

National Dog Show, Rowan University to Host Symposium for Therapy Dog Communities

Julia Rivera //October 13, 2021//

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Press release: National Dog Show

The National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University will take another groundbreaking step in 2021 with its first combined virtual and on-site conference for America’s reinvigorated therapy dog community. The unique forum for practitioners, advocates and aspirants is set for November 30, and will be open to participants from around the world. The event will take place at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, home of The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program at the University’s Wellness Center.

The conference launched in 2019 with over 200 on-site participants at Rowan University. In 2020, instead of taking the year off amidst the global pandemic, symposium organizers went virtual, presenting a day-long livestream which attracted an international audience of over 200 online participants. Now in its third year, the conference has established itself as the most prominent platform for the therapy dog and veterinary community to share information and develop best practices. Now the 2021 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University is well planned to help handlers address and meet the surge in visitation request as the pandemic wanes.

 The conference being held at Rowan University is open to the public, both on-site and online, via pre-registration at a cost of $25 for the livestream and $50 for in person attendance, which includes lunch.  A livestream link will be sent to all online registrants a day before the event.

“Last year, the symposium took a huge step in shifting to a virtual setting,” said David Frei, the symposium co-founder and 2019 keynote speaker. “We decided to use the global pandemic as an opportunity to expand and support our audience, instead of letting COVID get the best of us. This year, we are thrilled to be back on-site while also engaging a national audience via technology. Our research shows that, on social media and in therapy dog circles, the need for these activities is stronger than ever.”

The in-person event at Rowan University is an all-day series of informational sessions including a lunch and a post-conference reception. Featured speakers will be announced and listed at Rowan University Wellness Center Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program. Virtual attendees will be provided the same content as in-person attendees via the livestream presentation and emailed PDFs.

The symposium is held in tandem with The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, which was funded through a $3 million gift from Gerry Shreiber, president and CEO of J&J Snack Foods of Pennsauken, New Jersey. The event is also scheduled in conjunction with the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s (KCP) annual, National Dog Show. This year, the show will take place November 20-21 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania.

Symposium organizers include Frei, co-host of The National Dog Show Thanksgiving Day on NBC, and Michele Pich, assistant director of The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, adjunct professor and research associate at Rowan University.

Frei, an internationally known canine expert and 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 helped introduce therapy dog visitation to 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 on NBC. He is a member of the National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team with his Brittany, Grace.

Pich is a charter member (2012) of the National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team with her Staffordshire Terrier, Vivian Peyton. Pich runs the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program at Rowan University, recruiting, assessing, and scheduling certified animal-assisted therapy teams to visit University students, staff, and faculty, along with serving the community at COVID-19 vaccine clinics and other events. The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program functions both as an independent department, and also in collaboration with other Rowan University departments such as both of Rowan’s medical schools (CMSRU and SOM), the Autism PATH Program, the Rowan Integrated Special Needs (RISN) center, other Rowan Wellness Center departments and the Division of Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Pich previously worked at the Penn Vet Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, served as a veterinary grief counselor and taught courses in the human-animal bond. She is the former co-director of the VetPets Animal Assisted Activities at Penn Vet, as well as working with New Leash on Life-USA, Philadelphia’s animal-assisted prisoner re-entry nonprofit.

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.