Therapy Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Volunteering Experience
Looking for a volunteering opportunity for you and your pet? Therapy dogs and cats play a vital role in the community, in a variety of settings. Read on to learn more about therapy pets!
What Are Therapy Dogs and Cats?
Therapy dogs and cats are pets that provide affection to people in need of comfort. These animals provide a therapeutic effect, lowering stress and depression levels. Therapy pets visit places such as retirement homes, hospitals, elementary schools, colleges, hospices, nursing homes and disaster areas. They provide company for the lonely, a shoulder to cry on for the traumatized or even a listening ear for children learning to read.
They are different from a service animal in that they are not trained to perform certain tasks. And unlike service animals, they can freely interact with the people around them. Therapy dogs and cats are also not protected under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities Act.
Requirements: What Does Therapy Dog Training or Therapy Dog Certification Entail?
There are no breed or size requirements for therapy animals. However, what is required of therapy pets is that they have the right temperament. It’s all about personality!
Depending on the volunteering opportunity, your animal may not require any therapy dog training or therapy dog certification. Your animal just needs to be affectionate and well-behaved indoors. Other volunteering organizations might require a more formal training or certification process.
Animals must be friendly, quiet and well-behaved. We recommend your dog or cat be housetrained and be comfortable around strangers. If you plan on bringing your pet to a hospital, we also suggest making sure your animal isn’t spooked by crutches, wheelchairs and other equipment.