What is Pet Assisted Therapy?
Pets make us laugh, they ease our troubles and enrich our lives. Research shows that pets are good for us both physically and emotionally. Pets have been found to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and increase relaxation in humans. For those of us who are ill or isolated, the simple presence of a pet can be invaluable. A visit from an animal can brighten someone’s day or provide therapy to help them through a difficult time. The Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) Pet Assisted Therapy (PAT) Program introduces teams of volunteers and their trained therapy dogs to those people who can benefit most from spending time with animals. By recognizing that pets can contribute to healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives, our program offers help and hope to those who need it most.
The RCHS PAT teams are a special group of volunteers who have recognized that their pets have something valuable to offer and are willing and able to take the time to share it with others. There is no particular breed of dog that makes an ideal therapy dog, but dogs should be calm, love being around all sorts of people, and other dogs, and love to be handled and pet.
To get started you just need a friendly dog, any breed or mix, and a desire to share smiles and joy with those who most need it. Dogs must be at least one year of age to be tested and observed.
Our process begins with a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test* administered by our CGC Evaluator. Once you have your CGC test, an RCHS evaluator will administer a brief behavior assessment to see how the dogs react to situations they may encounter on a therapy visit, such as loud noises, hugs and touching on the face and ears. Then, you are ready to move to the next step, which is to complete three visits with an observer/supervisor present.
*If your dog already has a CGC test, you are well on your way! You and your dog will only need to complete the behavior assessment and three supervised visits.
To find out more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.