FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Learn more about becoming a PAAWS Pet Partner Team!
What is the difference between a Service and Therapy Animal?
A 'Service Animal' is defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act (federal law, 1990) as any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Their work is handler-focused and benefits their handlers who have disabilities. Federal law generally permits qualified people who have disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in all places of public accommodation. Service animals are not considered "pets.
Therapy animals and their handlers are trained to provide specific human populations with appropriate contact with animals. They are usually the personal pets of the handlers and accompany their handlers to the sites they visit. No rights to public access. Animals must meet specific criteria for health, grooming and behavior. While managed by their handlers, their work is not handler-focused and instead provides benefits to others.
What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Animal Assisted Therapy (also known as AAT, dog therapy, or pet therapy) is the use of trained animals to provide a therapeutic benefit (psychological, physical, or educational) to multiple humans in one-on-one or group settings. AAT is sometimes provided under the guidance of a therapist, medical practitioner, or educator, but it is also often provided more casually as with the growing use of dogs to visit hospitals, care facilities, schools, detention centers and at special events.
What types of facilities and populations are visited by PAAWS Teams?
PAAWS Teams visit residential care facilities, hospitals, schools, detention facilities, libraries, rehabilitation units, group homes, those with disabilities or special needs, hospice patients and take part in special events.
What types of people are best suited to be part of a PAAWS Team?
Those who have a genuine interest in other people, show good listening skills, enjoy meeting new people, and enjoy sharing their animals.
What type of animal is best suited to be part of a PAAWS Team?
One that is at least 1 year old, has been a part of your family for at least 6 months, has a solid foundation in basic obedience and great teamwork with handler. An animal that is people oriented, comfortable being touched, enjoys visiting with strangers, is predictable, reliable, controllable, and able to cope with stressful situations.
How do my animal and I become a PAAWS Team?
The first step to becoming PAAWS Team is to become certified with Project Canine or registered with Pet Partners. Yes, there are other therapy organizations out there, however, PAAWS is committed having well prepared, quality teams. PAAWS believes that teams should have some formal training about working with your animal in therapy settings, have been evaluated by a licensed or certified evaluator for the skills necessary to be successful and should participate in a regularly scheduled renewal process to keep skills current. Taking an animal into a variety of facilities to interact with a wide variety of people can be a risky endeavor. This is not the time to take the easiest path. The extra time, expense and effort to meet these standards is well worth it. It may be necessary to spend a little extra time preparing to meet these high standards. PAAWS can suggest some good obedience classes, Canine Good Citizen programs or therapy dog preparation classes to help you get ready.
Are there costs involved?
Yes, there are a number of initial costs to become a PAAWS Team. There are fees for obedience and preparation classes, Project Canine or Pet Partners training, evaluation and certification/registration and PAAWS dues. Optional fees include identification vests and shirts. It is an investment, but the joy of sharing your animal is priceless.
How often do I visit with my animal?
There is no specific time commitment. Some teams will visit once a month while others may visit once or more per week. Depending on the facility or population the visits may occur during the day, evening, or on weekends. There are visiting opportunities for all types of people's schedules.
What if something happens while I'm visiting with my animal?
Project Canine, Pet Partners and PAAWS each provide liability insurance and have specific steps to take should someone be injured during a visit.
Can you summarize the steps to getting started?
Pet Partners: Volunteering With Your Pet Video
Have you ever considered volunteering as a therapy animal team? This approximately 30-minute flash video presentation provides a broad overview of the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program and associated requirements for participation.