Metro Pets

By Sharon Gomes Thomas

Your pet has always been very social, liking to make new friends all the time, whether it’s a stranger on the street, or your neighbor next door that steals your newspaper. So perhaps it’s time for Fido or Kitty to become a pet activist and put those furry social skills to good use. You and your pet can volunteer and become pet therapists.

Brian the cat is available for adoption at the ASPCA, NY

Delta Society’s Pet Partners Program (http://www.deltasociety.org) trains and screens volunteers and their pets so that they can become a team that’s qualified to visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities. Their national network links volunteers with facilities in their own communities that request visiting pets. This program is the only national registry that requires volunteer training and screening of animal-handler teams.

So now that you’ve decided that this is a great way to give back to your community, how do you go about becoming qualified? There are just four steps:

Step 1: Train the human-end (that’s you!) of the leash by attending a training course
Step 2: Have the health of pet screened by a vet
Step 3: Have your team evaluated
Step 4: Submit your application

Honey the cat is available for adoption at the ASPCA, NY

The training course is usually presented as a hands-on course. For those who cannot attend a workshop, Delta offers a home study version. In the New York area, the ASPCA (http://www.ASPCA.org) helps to carry out Delta Society’s mission by providing a full-service program in which individuals can register their dogs and cats as therapy animals. The ASPCA also provides supervision for teams who are just beginning to get their “paws wet” and would like assistance during their first visits.

Nala the dog is available for adoption at the ASPCA, NY

In addition to enriching lives and improving human health, the animal-assisted therapy program at the ASPCA brings about greater community acceptance of dogs. Canines are seen as taking part in the healing processes of human beings in a variety of different situations, and facilities such as oncology units in hospitals and women’s shelters, which would never have allowed dogs to enter before, are now admitting them in to serve humans in need of assistance.

Butch the cat is available for adoption at the ASPCA, NY

Here’s the next upcoming class:

“Go Say Hi” – Teaching You and Your Dog to Help Others

This fun seven week class will help prepare you and your dog for the Delta Society evaluation.

The strengths and preferences of you and your dog will be identified and assessed for recommendations on placement in facilities that best ensure safe, enjoyable and successful animal assisted therapy.
Prerequisite: Dogs must have knowledge of basic skills like sit, stay, etc.

When: Saturdays, December 12th 2009 through January 30th, 2010.
Time: 9-10am
Fee: $290 including the training manual and evaluation
Location: ASPCA Headquarters at 424 E 92nd St. (btw 1st Ave and York Ave)
2nd Floor Training Center
Ph: (212) 876-7566

Kuzya the dog is available for adoption at the ASPCA, NY

Originally published December 2009
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