TRY THIS: Does your dog have what it takes to be a therapy animal? In honor of National Pet Therapy Day on April 30, we wanted to check out what it takes for our beloved animals to be able to volunteer in assisted living facilities, hospitals, and care centers to provide comfort and love to those in need.
HOW TO TRY IT: Here in Miami, the non-profit Humane Society of Greater Miami offers opportunities for pet owners to volunteer their four-legged pals as pet therapy animals.
First, you have to become a volunteer. Trainings are held the first Saturday of the month at the Soffer and Fine Adoption Center in North Miami Beach.
Second, your dog must be certified as a Canine Good Citizen. Petco and Petsmart stores offer the multi-week certification where dogs are tested on a variety of tasks, from accepting a friendly stranger to their reactions to distractions.
From there, the Humane Society matches volunteers with facilities in the area. For more information on the pet therapy program, visit its website or call (305) 749-1820.
Check with the hospital or care center you would like to volunteer with to see if they require specific training and certificates for you and your pet. Alliance of Therapy Dogs is another nation-wide organization that helps certify and place therapy pets.
FUN FACT: If having a pet isn’t in your stars, there are still opportunities at the Humane Society to get some one-on-one time with a dog or cat. Volunteers are needed for daily dog walks and help with dog and cat socialization time.
WHY TO TRY IT: For the pet owner, studies have shown that having a pet around can help decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness and increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities. For hospital patients, having a pet visitor can help lower stress levels and support their overall health and wellbeing.