Our Pet Assisted Therapy teams are made up of local residents who work in pairs, with their pets, to visit healthcare facilities, drug rehab centers and correctional facilities. Pets in these teams offer the unique kind of therapy only an animal can provide. Visiting with animals helps people feel less lonely, depressed or anxious while relieving stress and encouraging a general feeling of wellbeing. Until further notice and due to COVID-19, we are on hiatus from doing in-person Pet Assisted Therapy visits at all facilities, and are conducting virtual visits, when possible.
Paws for Tales our Reading to Dogs program, helps children who have a difficult time reading out loud become more confident and self-assured readers. Only the most social, engaging animals and their companions become Pet Assisted Therapy teams at PHS/SPCA. Paws for Tales is now being offered virtually at San Mateo Main library and Redwood City libraries.
The next virtual Paws for Tales be offered by the Redwood City Public Library on Saturday, August 1st from 11 am – 12 pm and 3:30-4:30 pm. To sign up to participate in this virtual Paws for Tales please visit: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0d4faeab2ca3f58-paws1
The San Mateo Main Library will host a virtual Paws for Tales on the second Monday of the month from 4:00-5:00 pm To participate in this virtual Paws for Tales please visit: https://forms.gle/CFbTa8kwAp4gXuRA6
If you’re interested in joining our therapy program please contact Marivic Dizon, PhD at 650-340-7022 ext. 357 or at MDizon@PHS-SPCA.org.
Pet Assisted Therapy Candidates
Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important consideration is that your dog has a good temperament. Therapy dogs must be gentle, friendly, obedient, patient, confident and at ease in all situations. Cats, rabbits, and Guinea pigs that are gentle and not overly-stimulated are good candidates for the program. Only the most social, engaging animals and their companions become Pet Assisted Therapy teams at PHS/SPCA.
To be considered for the Pet Assisted Therapy program your animal must:
- Enjoy interacting with people and being touched.
- Show confidence in new environments.
- Remain calm around other animals.
- Have been your companion for at least six (6) months.
- Be a minimum of one (1) year old.
Obedience Training & Evaluations
PHS/SPCA offers obedience training and the Canine Good Citizen training and behavior evaluation (CGC) several times a year. As a prerequisite to the CGC, a dog must have already completed a beginner obedience training class. The animal must also pass a temperament evaluation that measures the animal’s natural or instinctive behavior. For information on the CGC, click here.
Where We Visit
PHS/SPCA Pet Assisted Therapy program works with facilities throughout San Mateo County. We are always looking for more sites that need our special type of therapy, but we do not make home visits. To get started, please submit our Facility Request Form. We will notify you upon receipt and give you the next steps.
Please note that therapy animals are not legally defined as “service” or “assistance” animals. Service animals are working dogs trained to perform specific tasks relating to their owner’s disability. If you are interested in your animal being designated an assistance animal, please visit the San Mateo County’s website by clicking here.
Pet Assisted Therapy Video Visits
Enjoy a big hello from our Pet Assisted Therapy teams! These at-home videos are fun and informational, and give you a look into the life of a certified Therapy Pet. Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of these cuties!
When: Keep an eye out for new episodes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the steps to become a Therapy Animal Team
- Pass Canine Good Citizen test
- Complete a brief phone interview
- Pass a Temperament Evaluation
- Receive a Veterinary Screening
- Complete an orientation, trainings and shadowing/mentoring sessions
What is the difference between temperament and obedience training?
Why should Therapy Animals be temperament tested?
What health screening is required for Therapy Animals?
Do we certify animals for other programs?
Is there a charge to participate in this program?
There is a fee for the CGC training and evaluation, cost for your animal’s veterinary screening, volunteer shirt and Sterling Volunteers background check submitted directly to PHS/SPCA.