You will want to join a national registry as soon as possible. While there are several dozen of these, the main ones represented in the Charleston area are the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners, and Therapy Dogs International.
Why join? The national group, once you have passed the evalution process, will issue your registration and provide you with liability insurance. Without that registration, many facilities will not let you visit. Why insurance? Your homeowners' policy may not cover liability in an incident; insurance through one of the major registries is comprehensive and reasonable.
Finally, all the registries have excellent training and update programs, including helpful evaluators and ongoing education for handlers.
Which registry? Each of these has its merits. Most handlers in the Charleston area belong to ATD, and STAR has several ATD evaluators among its members as well as one LOAL person. We can refer you out for the other registries. STAR itself does not register therapy dogs.
FOUR NATIONAL REGISTRIES
For more registries, visit the American Kennel Club's Therapy Dog section.
ALLIANCE OF THERAPY DOGS
More handlers in the Charleston area belong to this organization than any other. It offers new handlers excellent supervision over the course of three clinical visits.