Potential Therapets Volunteers
Does your dog, cat or rabbit love meeting new people?
If your answer is yes, we hope you'll consider becoming an Animal Friends Therapets volunteer! Our volunteers take their certified therapy pets on visits throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania to promote the human-animal bond. We visit a variety of locations such as hospitals, assisted living facilities, day programs, residential care facilities, hospices, college campuses, and many more!
Please read the information below to find out how you and your pet can become a Therapets volunteer.
Animal Friends offers its very own canine Therapets Prep Class and Certification Test. In order to register for the class, you and your dog must first complete a behavior evaluation with one of our Therapets trainers to ensure that he/she is a good fit for our program. The Therapets Prep Class is a six-week program that includes preparation for visiting facilities and practice for the Therapets Certification Test. Both the class and test are held either here at Animal Friends, or at our partner location, Westminster Presbyterian Church in the South Hills!
All dogs must be at least one year of age, spayed/neutered, have been a member of your family for at least six months, and up-to-date on vaccinations.
What makes a good therapy dog?
When it comes to animals, the most important trait we look for is a sociable temperament. Dogs must have a friendly and outgoing personality toward people in order to be successful. It’s also important that the dog and handler work well as a team when they are out visiting together. Finally, it’s vital for the dog to know basic obedience commands to help keep everyone safe!
Here are some questions to think about before scheduling an evaluation for your dog:
If you answered no to any of these questions but are still interested in pet therapy please give us a call to discuss your options. Certain things, like temperament, cannot be trained, however our trainers may be able to give you tips for making the car ride a more enjoyable experience for your pooch!
We encourage you to pay close attention to whether your dog is affectionate only with you, or with all people. If you’re not sure whether or not your dog is a good candidate for pet therapy, we suggest going on a ‘community visit’ to the local pet store. Observe how your dog acts around other people and get a feel for how you work together by asking your dog to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ throughout the store.
To see a video of the typical Therapets visit and what type of behavior makes a good therapy dog as well as what types of behavior are not good in a therapy dog, please click here.
Click Here for more information about our Canine Prep Class.
Click here for the Therapets Certification Test Criteria.
To get started, please complete our canine pre-evaluation questionnaire. Once this questionnaire is submitted, we will be in contact with you to schedule a behavior evaluation appointment. Contact Rachel Martone at 412.847.7081 or RMartone@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org with any questions.
Cats must be at least one year of age, spayed/neutered, have been a member of the family for at least six months, and up-to-date on vaccinations.
Cats must wear a harness and leash. Practicing with a harness before scheduling the feline evaluation is highly recommended. Please let us know if you need tips and tricks for how to help your cat adjust to the harness.
Please tell us about you and cat by submitting our feline pre-evaluation questionnaire. Once this questionnaire is submitted, we will be in contact with you to schedule a behavior evaluation appointment.
Rabbits must be at least one year of age, spayed/neutered, have been a member of the family for at least six months, and complete an annual wellness check with a veterinarian.
Rabbits must arrive in a carrier and should also be comfortable being transported in one of the following three ways: harness and leash, carried in a basket, or in a cross-body sling. Please make sure your rabbit is comfortable in at least one of these positions before scheduling your evaluation. Please tell us about you and rabbit by submitting our lagomorph pre-evaluation questionnaire. Once this questionnaire is submitted, we will be in contact with you to schedule a behavior evaluation appointment.
All individuals who volunteer in the Therapets program must go through the following two training sessions: