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Volunteering for Pet Therapy
I am interested in volunteering with my dog...
We are always in need of volunteers. Volunteers can come with us to visit one or more of our designated nursing homes with their prescreened and approved pet. To see if your dog is right for pet therapy see if your dog meets the following criteria.
- My dog is friendly with all other dogs.
- My dog is friendly with all people.
- My dog is not frightened or aggressive with new situations that are not the norm.
- My dog is not afraid of loud noises.
- My dog is not afraid of wheel chairs or big or noisy equipment.
- My dog does not jump up on people.
- My dog has never growled, attempted to bite, or bitten anyone.
- My dog is housebroken.
- My dog has all his/her shots.
- My dog is clean and well groomed.
- My dog is free of fleas and parasites.
If you are interested in volunteering with our program with your pet please fill out an application and fax it to our number on our contact us page or e-mail it to email@example.com. Once we receive your application and a current record of your dog's vaccines then we will call you and set up your first therapy visit. We will ask you and your dog to come 15 minutes before the rest of the group so we can assess your dog. During your first visit with us we will have an experienced volunteer team up with you to be sure everything runs smoothly.
Please read and understand the guidelines below before applying.
Where do Volunteers Meet?
- Manor Care - in the "living room" left of the main entrance
Before a Visit
- Call the office at (847) 816-0831 to confirm you'll be attending a Pet Therapy session. The office is open M-F 9am to 3pm. Leave a message on voice mail if calling after hours.
- Grooming - A bath is not always necessary as there are many products that can clean the coat as you brush. During brushing, check for doggie odor and evidence of external parasites. Trim your pet's nails.
- Plan to dress neatly and comfortably. Many facilities are quite warm.
- Pack a small bag with articles to take with you such as:
- Clean up materials (should your pet have an accident) - paper towels, baggies, etc.
- Small treats, bowl and water for your pet
- Towel to use if your pet can go on a client's lap or bed
No retractable leashes, pinch or choke collars should be used during visits
During a Visit
- Be on time - sign in with your group leader. Plan for time to exercise your pet and clean up, if necessary. Remember that clients may have other planned activities and you need to start and end on time as scheduled.
- Be knowledgeable about facility policies and follow them. You are a visiting guest, so be polite and considerate.
- Be knowledgeable about your pet's behavior and watch for signs of stress
- Before entering a resident's room, pause outside the door and look for any signs that may be posted. Some rooms may read "precautions", "please see nurse before entering room" or "isolation."? If any of these warnings are posted, always find a staff member and ask permission before entering the room.
- Introduce yourself and your pet to clients. CLOSELY SUPERVISE YOUR PET AT ALL TIMES. Be aware that elderly client's skin is easily injured. Always protect your pet from too much handling or abuse.
- Always be a careful observer of clients. Watch for any reaction that could signal stress, irritation or physical danger. Ask staff if there are any clients you should not see. Remain calm, friendly, cheerful and professional at all times. Notify staff if a client becomes upset, ill or makes a request. Report any injuries immediately so that appropriate action is taken and any accident forms completed.
- BEFORE you approach a client, ask if they would like to see or pet your animal. If they respond negatively, excuse yourself courteously. Never force an animal on a client. Respect their feelings. Clients may change their minds about wanting to see your animal, so ask again or on the next visit. Many clients have never seen a trained dog, so a demonstration of obedience or tricks may help some clients overcome their reluctance.
- As you interact with clients, be a good listener and provide questions to keep the conversation going. You may want to ask if they had pets and if so, what kind. Do not yell or speak loudly when communicating with the hearing impaired. Directly face the client and use caring body language as much as possible.
- Respect client confidentiality. Any information you may hear should not be repeated.
- DO NOT REMOVE ANY RESTRAINTS from clients even at their request. Notify the staff as needed.
- In case of a fire drill, follow staff directions. You are responsible for yourself and the safety of your pet.
- Be aware of the staff's time. They are very busy and have many responsibilities. Do not give them any more! Allow staff to interact with your pet if they desire. We can all benefit from a pet therapy break.
After a Visit
- Praise and reward your pet for a good visit!
- Remember that you and your animal companion have probably established important human-animal bonds with some clients and they will be looking forward to seeing you again. So, please continue your visitations as much as possible.
Have a good time and thanks for volunteering!
- Pet Therapy Application [pdf]