× Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati


× Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati
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Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati

About Our Group

Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 as the tri-state resource for the human-animal bond and to validate the important role of animals for people's health and well-being. We have strict guidelines for evaluating volunteer Therapy Animal teams and providing Animal-Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Therapy services. We train volunteers and screen pets to visit acute, rehabilitation and palliative healthcare facilities, group homes and schools throughout the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Metro area. Our current membership of quality teams includes over 200 volunteers and their dogs and other pets. Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati values our animals' safety and welfare as our highest priority while helping our pets to share their unconditional love with others. Client confidentiality, including compliance with HIPAA regulations, is assured. We have been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a not-for-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) since March, 2005, and are further classified as a public charity under Section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi). Donations to our organization may be fully deductible, but please check first with a qualified tax professional.

Mission Statement

Through our trained Therapy Animal teams, the members of Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati are able to provide unconditional love, emotional support, comfort, joy, and a pleasant distraction from the everyday stresses in life by allowing our pets to interact and bond with the people they meet. We strive to make a positive difference in the lives we touch in all the facilities we visit, including health care facilities, retirement communities, and schools, while we educate the community about the significant value of the human-animal bond.

Board of Directors


Marilyn Edwards, President

Most people know me as the person with Roo, the French Bulldog in the stroller, or the person with the fat bulldog named Mister. But my history with pet therapy really began in April 2004, when I joined Delta Society (now Pet Partners) with my girl, Babs, a boxer mix I found tied to a post. I later became involved in the startup of our local organization, TPGC, and was elected to serve for several years on the board. After retiring from Procter & Gamble in 2008, I became a Pet Partner Evaluator and Instructor, studied to be a Master Gardener, and to become a team member in the Southwest Ohio Critical Incident Stress Management (SWOCISM) with my dog, Maggie. This team was established to provide a form of crisis intervention, specifically designed to help emergency workers and healthcare professionals cope with the psychological stresses inherent in their professions and to prevent PTSD. In 2012, while living part-time in Youngstown, OH, I volunteered at Trumbull Memorial Hospital to start their pet therapy program while volunteering at many local facilities. In my 16 years of volunteering, I have volunteered at retirement facilities, rehab facilities, hospitals, schools, businesses, and speaking engagements. I have had wonderful experiences of sharing my pet partners with so many people. Sometimes, as you may have also experienced in your visits, we are in the right place at the right time with the right dog to really make a difference in a person's life. My dogs have given me this wonderful opportunity to provide some comfort and joy to others.


Heather Hauser, Vice President

My name is Heather Hauser. I have been with Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati since 2018 and have made pet therapy my mission since then. I have had four registered guinea pigs (Rapunzel, Belle, Olaf, and Jasmine) and I am currently registered with my giant rabbit, George. As Trustee, I have taken on the role of mentor coordinator and most recently, visit coordinator. I feel like I can provide a unique perspective on the board as a non-dog team. I have been an evaluation assistant for 2 years and I am currently in the middle of training to be an evaluator. I am eager to learn all there is to know about pet therapy! I currently visit all of the St. Elizabeth locations, the Family Nurturing Center, a few nursing homes. and a lot of the visit requests that I send out. I live in Edgewood, KY with my husband Brad and our two daughters, Rose (9) and Anna (7). We have 5 guinea pigs, two rabbits, and two dogs (and if we had more space I would have more animals, I just love them all!). My 9-year-old has proven to be quite the Pet Partners recruiter. We were at a dog park, and she took some brochures from the car and was petting and assessing the dogs and giving brochures to the good ones. She can't wait to be a junior handler when she is old enough. I was a special education teacher for 8 years and now I am a stay-at-home mom. I have an eBay business now which allows me to have very flexible work hours.


Louise Nathanson, Treasurer

My name is Louise Nathanson. I am a wife, mother of 3 daughters, grandmother of 4, and dog mom to 2 golden retrievers. I have lived in Anderson Township since 1987 but, in my heart, will always be a Kentuckian. In 2021, I attended an information session and chose to join Pet Partners as a volunteer without a partner. While waiting for my 6th golden retriever to age in and mature, I have been helping with evaluations and workshops. Working with current evaluators has given me the opportunity to learn not only a lot about Pet Partners, but about animal training as well. Having worked in accounting and tax for over 30 years, I believe there is a need for pet therapy, not only in medical facilities and schools, but in the corporate world as well. As staff returns to in person positions, I am proud to be involved in reducing their stress.


Julie Johnson, Secretary

I am a somewhat new volunteer, having joined last year with my Netherland Dwarf bunny, Alice. I am married with two teenagers, a dog, a cat, and another bunny – all residing in Maineville, OH. I have always had and loved animals my whole life. Prior to having kids and while they were babies, I was the Secretary for the Clermont County Animal Shelter. At this shelter, I assisted with pet adoptions, staff concerns, and budgeting. Though unrelated, I've also served as Secretary and President of our neighborhood HOA. I work full time with Cincinnati Insurance in Fairfield, OH as an insurance auditor. Thought I am full time, I still feel it is important to give back to society. I've always believed animals play an important role in our happiness. Alice and I have done events downtown, at a nursing home, a book fair, and both an elementary and high school. I've seen the positive impact this type of work has on people both young and old.


Denise Sebastianelli, Trustee

My name is Denise Sebastianelli. My husband, Frank, and I have been volunteer handlers with PPGC with our FlatCoated Retriever, Bo, since 2017. Frank is retired and he and Bo have volunteered many, many hours at a wide variety of events. Bo has a special place in his heart for his special needs students at Kings High School, but he loves visiting just about anywhere. Bo and I became regular visitors at the Cincinnati VA in 2018, where I work as an Oncology Nurse. I have been fortunate to experience the magic of therapy pets, not only as a handler, but also as a nurse. I have seen pure joy instead of sadness in the faces of cancer patients when they see the therapy dogs come through the Chemo Clinic door. I have watched nurses and doctors let go of the stress they carry so heavily on their shoulders. Being in health care, I see firsthand the value PPGC brings to these and other communities. We can help heal, comfort, motivate, and create smiles and laughter. "Deaf Dogs Hear with their Hearts"


Karen Howell, Trustee

I have been a member of Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati since 2011 and now have 3 pet partners, all rough collies (Shaunessy, Jedadiah, and Journey). I'm also currently licensed as a Team Evaluator and Volunteer Instructor for Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati. I'm part of the East side group working out of Anderson Mercy Hospital, but I often travel to other locations (Northern Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia) to conduct evaluations for the national organization. While training and showing dogs has been a lifelong passion of mine, my therapy work has been especially rewarding. Pre-COVID, I regularly volunteered at Mercy Anderson Hospital, Clermont Mercy Hospital, and Hospice of Cincinnati. Being able to use your best friends to help others is just incredible! I do work full-time in an OB/GYN practice and have for 33 years. Though it's quite demanding, it has its own quirks and rewards. My journey from Handler to Evaluator to Instructor has now brought the opportunity to use my experience to help set the future direction of our organization as a member of the PPGC Board.


Sam Gingrich, Trustee

My golden doodle, Brutus, and I just passed our third two-year evaluation, so we are now in our fifth year as a therapy team. Brutus and I make four visits each week. We visit Tri-Health Arrowsprings medical center. We visit two schools each week in Lebanon, the high school and an elementary school. In both cases we work with special needs children. Finally we visit Otterbein Retirement Center each week where we visit patients in the TCU unit, as well as Alzheimer's patients in Matthews Hall. Brutus is seven years old now, and I hope we can continue doing our therapy work for many years to come. Our therapy visits are the most fun and rewarding volunteer work I have ever been involved with. I am a retired advertising executive, and as a trustee at TPGC I designed and produced our full color TPGC brochure. I worked for Kroger for 18 years where I was in charge of advertising and community relations. I left Kroger in 1993 and started my own advertising agency, JA&G advertising, whereI was CEO, for sixteen years. I have experience serving on several boards, including Crayons to Computers, a free store for teachers in Cincinnati. I have been on the board at Crayons for twelve years, and was chairman of the board for three years.


Susan Steinhardt, Executive Director

My name is Susan Steinhardt and my pet partner is Bailey, a 7 year old Golden Retriever. We have been members of TPGC since 2014. Bailey and I visit Our Lady of Visitation School weekly for a reading program. We currently have 10 children reading to us. We also visit Kings High School special needs classes on Fridays on a rotating schedule as well as various special events (book fairs, health fairs, exam week stress relief, etc). Prior to belonging to TPGC, I was a member of Pets Helping People for several years, visiting Kenwood Terrace Nursing Home on a weekly basis with my 2 golden retrievers (now deceased) and I also visited Children's Hospital (main campus) with one of my dogs. My professional background includes 24 years at P&G (most recently as Director of Business Intelligence Services) and 14 years as an Executive Coach working with individuals and corporations. I see several opportunities for TPGC to strengthen engagement with our members and better connect with those organizations seeking Pet Partner visits.