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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know my dog can become a Therapy Canine?
There are no guarantees, but most dogs who are people loving and have good manners with people and dogs are excellent candidates.

Are there certain breeds that are better suited than others?
Again, the most important qualifications for dogs is that they are well socialized and have had some basic obedience training. We do not discourage any dog from being evaluated as long as he or she meets these pre-requisites and has
  • a county license;
  • regular veterinarian care and current vaccinations;
  • flea and heartworm protection (Frontline, Advantage, Advantix, etc.)
While PFH does not exclude any breed from being evaluated or from being a Therapy Canine, our sites have their own requirements and may exclude some breeds from volunteering.

How often am I expected to volunteer?
All volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of visiting a PFH- affiliated site twice a month. The visits may last from 30 minutes to one-and-a-half hours depending on the canineís abilities and stress levels.

If my dog is certified as a Therapy Canine, may I bring him to work?
No. Only our volunteers who are working in one of our programs and have the institutionís, employerís, countyís or school boardís approval in writing may make arrangements for canine-assisted therapy at their workplace.

May I go to any any health care or educational facility in my area as a Canine-Assisted Therapy team?
No. In order to receive insurance coverage, volunteer teams may go only to those sites that are approved by PFH.

Once my dog is certified as a Therapy Canine, may I take him/her with me wherever I travel?
No. It is illegal and highly unethical to do so. Therapy Canines are NOT dogs that provide medical- or health-related assistance that enables a person to work or live within society. Claiming that a dog certified to do therapy work as any kind of ďassistanceĒ dog is a misdemeanor. Moreover, such claims make it difficult for those who have legitimate assistance dogs to be treated fairly by the public and to receive the services they need.

The American Disabilities Act protects dogs that perform services for people who have medical, emotional or physical illnesses or deficits. Those dogs include
  • Guide Dogs for people with sight impairments;
  • Hearing (or Signal) Dogs for people with hearing loss;
  • Assistance Dogs for people with physical impairments or illnesses;
  • Medical Assistance Dogs for people who deal with seizure disorders, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other medical conditions covered by the ADA, or who have mental or emotional issues that limit their abilities to work, live and travel safely.
If you are interested in more information about an assistance dog for your ;own needs, please read our article,    "Are You Looking for a Medical Service Dog?"  For access to additional reference material on animal-assisted therapy as well as assistance dogs you can visit your local library, book store, or peruse this list of available books online.

Is it Possible to Work with Other Programs with my Certified Canine?
Yes. PFH has a working relationship with a number of community organizations, such as Hospice, NEWS (Napa Emergency Womenís Services), and the Pathways project at the Veterans Home in Yountville. Additionally, our volunteers go to variety of school and library programs through the Paws for Reading program. To qualify for another program or as a canine team for another organization, PFH volunteers must also go through the training classes and requirements established by those groups or programs.

My question isn't answered here. Whom should I contact?
Please write to info@pawsforhealing.org and your request will be forwarded to the appropriate person. Thank you for learning more about canine therapy. We hope you will be encouraged to become involved in this very rewarding volunteer service. For specific information on the application process and the necessary application forms, please visit our page "Classes".

Mentors, Sites and Getting Started
Certification Process

Is there a deadline for completing volunteer requirements?
The steps outlined on the previous pages must be completed within 3 months so that your training and canine evaluation remain valid. After that period you will need to have your canine re-evaluated and you must attend the afternoon session of the next scheduled training.

What if Iím not sure what site I want to visit?
If you have not decided on a site by the end of todayís training, our site and mentor coordinator will contact you to assist you in the next few weeks. You may also contact PFH by email or phone and a volunteer will respond to help you with finding a site.

What do I have to do to get started at the site?
You are responsible for contacting the volunteer coordinator, activity director or PFH contact that is listed on your Facility/Site List to begin the facilityís own volunteer process. Requirements vary at all PFH facilities.

What do I do once Iíve completed the facilityís requirements?
If you havenít been assigned a mentor, please call our site/mentor coordinator for help. Your mentor team will take you the first two times to the site, or until you feel comfortable. If you arenít sure who the site/mentor coordinator is, call the PFH hotline.

What if I want to change sites or go to more than one facility?
If you decide that you would like to visit a different patient population or would like to go to an additional site, then you must be mentored at the new site.

How many times do I go?
We ask that volunteer teams go to their facility twice a month. If, after orienting yourself and your canine to therapy visits for a few months, you would like to add a site, please call our site/mentor coordinator or email PFH.

When do I receive my PFH ID badge and my canineís uniform?
After you have passed the mentoring stage of PFH certification, you will receive your badge and canine uniform.

How long is our certification valid?
You are certified one year from the date you complete training. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail along with a health form for your canine. Only if you renew will you remain a PFH team and covered by our insurance policy. Thank you for learning more about canine therapy. We hope you will be encouraged to become involved in this very rewarding volunteer service. For specific information on the application process and the necessary application forms, please visit our page "Classes".