Do you think that you and your pet could make a difference as a certified pet therapy team? Our Therapets teams visit a variety of locations including hospitals, assisted-living facilities, day programs, residential care facilities, hospices, college campuses and more.
What makes a good Therapet?
To become a Therapet, your pet must be:
- Spayed or neutered.
- At least 1 year old.
- A member of your family for at least 6 months.
- Up-to-date on appropriate vaccines (titers are not accepted)
- Dogs must have distemper and rabies vaccines.
- Cats must have FVRCP and rabies vaccines.
- Rabbits must undergo an annual wellness exam.
To determine whether your dog, cat or rabbit might be a good candidate, consider the following:
- Are they friendly and outgoing?
- Do they enjoy meeting new people?
- Do they allow petting from strangers?
- Do they enjoy visiting new places?
- Do they ride well in the car?
- Are they tolerant of other animals?
- For dogs, do they listen to basic commands like sit and stay?
- For cats, are they comfortable traveling in a carrier and wearing a harness and leash? Please let us know if you need advice on helping your cat adjust to a harness!
- For rabbits, are they comfortable traveling in a carrier and wearing a harness or leash or being carried in a basket?
If you answered yes to these questions and you’re interested in becoming a member of our Therapets program, complete a questionnaire and a member of our team will contact you to schedule a behavior evaluation with you and your pet.
Note: Due to high demand, we have placed a temporary hold on new dog applications for our Therapets program.
If you have other questions about becoming a Therapets volunteer, please contact our Therapeutic Services Coordinator.
Prep Classes and Certification
To become a certified Therapets team, you and your pet must first complete a behavior evaluation with one of our Therapets trainers to determine whether they’re a good fit for the program. Cats and rabbits should be comfortable traveling in a carrier and wearing a harness and leash (rabbits can also be carried in a basket or in a cross-body sling). Humans must 18 years or older and complete Animal Friends’ volunteer orientation and a Pet Therapy Workshop with our Therapeutic Services Coordinator. Anyone accompanying the handler during Therapets visits must be 13 years or older and complete these two training sessions as well.
We offer a variety of prep classes and other resources to help you prepare for your Therapets Certification Test. Please let us know if you have questions or concerns about any of the requirements or expectations. Click here to review our Therapets testing criteria.
Therapets Canine Certification Prep Class
This 6-week class will develop skills needed for you and your dog to conduct therapy dog visits to a variety of facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, residential treatment centers, hospices and more. Dogs should be both people- and dog-friendly and have basic obedience training. We will build on those skills to develop a visiting team of dog and handler. A focus will be placed on team compatibility to ensure that dog and handler work well together. The class will include a visit with your dog to a local facility for a therapy visit. This class will prepare you and your dog for the Animal Friends’ Therapets Canine Certification test. An assessment interview is required prior to enrollment in this class.
To schedule an appointment or for more information about our program, please call 412.847.7026.
Up-to-date Rabies and Distemper vaccinations are required – titers are not accepted. Proof of an annual wellness exam is also required.
Vet records must be received no later than two days prior to the start of class or you will not be permitted to attend class – no exceptions.
NOTE: The Therapets program has been suspended due to COVID-19 and will resume when safe to do so.
At Animal Friends
Dates: Saturdays, Check back for future classes!
Time: 9-10 a.m.
Instructors: Barb Grosch, CPDT-KA, Michael Cunningham
Date: Mondays, Check back for future classes!
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Instructors: Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, Barb Grosch, CPDT-KA
Date: Wednesdays, Check back for future classes!
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Instructors: Barb Grosch, CPDT-KA, Gayle Bair, CPDT-KA
Tuition: $95 per dog
South Hills Location: Westminster Presbyterian Church (Upper St. Clair)
Dates: Mondays, Check back for future classes!
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Anita DeBiase
Tuition: $95 per dog
Therapets Manners Class
For dogs one year or older who have already been interviewed for the Therapets program.
Dates: Wednesdays, Check back for future class!
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Instructors: Therapets training team
Tuition: $45 per dog (humans free!)
Therapets Canine Certification Test
Dogs and handlers will be assessed in simulated therapy visit situations to determine the dog’s basic obedience skills, visiting skills and social skills. We are unable to accommodate walk-ins on the test date.
To schedule your certification test or for more information about our program, call 412.847.7026.