How do I get involved?
What does it take for my dog and I to become an Animal Assisted Therapy team?
PRAAT has been highly successful, in large part because we have the most rigorous and demanding selection process. Less than half the dogs screened actually complete the program.
What this means is that that those volunteers and their dogs that complete the process are among the best animal assisted therapy dog teams around!
Please don't let that scare you away from applying though. If you've got a friendly, confident, outgoing dog that loves people, that's exactly what we're looking for. If you've got a few hours a month to give, to put smiles on people's faces, we'd love to meet you!
What steps are involved?
1. Screening for health and disposition. The dogs are objectively and critically screened for health and disposition. Of the dogs that don't make it through the program, this is the point where most are eliminated.
2. Basic obedience lessons for dog and owner. This is mandatory. If a volunteer and his/her dog has previous training, we will administer a test to determine if they are at an acceptable level.
3. A trial visit and evaluation at one of the facilities we serve, under PRAAT supervision.
4. Workshop Participation to acquaint our volunteers with what to expect and how to relate to the patients residing in the facilities we visit.
5. Follow-up evaluations to make sure no problems develop. We welcome feedback from the facilities and our volunteers so that we can better the program.
What do we expect from our volunteers?
Volunteers are expected to do two 1-hour visits a month for a minimum of one year. They're welcome to make more visits if they'd like to.
All of our PRAAT visits are scheduled with the volunteers in advance and we expect our volunteers to keep their appointments. The patients and clients at the facilities look forward to the visits and are very disappointed if a visit has to be cancelled.
What health care is required?
The volunteer may use a NY veterinarian* of their choice. All dogs must be current on their vaccines and be on an approved parasite preventative program. This includes:
- Distemper Parvo vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
- Kennel cough (Bordatella bronchiseptica) vaccine
- Annual heartworm test
- Annual intestinal parasite (fecal) test
- Monthly parasite prevention (Sentinel, Advantage, Advantix, Frontline, Revolution, Heart Guard)
Please download and completthe PRAAT Health Maintenance Form (PDF) Then either mail it or fax it to us, Someone will contact you shortly afterwards.
* This health care must be provided by a New York State licensed veterinarian. Vaccines that are provided through a vaccine clinic or given by unlicensed individuals are not acceptable. The volunteer may use a veterinarian of their choice. However, the volunteer must provide the health care information to us in a timely manner.
Are there any expenses?
Volunteers are expected to pay for and be responsible for all care related to their pets.
PRAAT will pay for the cost of mandatory workshops.
Can children participate?
Yes, and this is encouraged, if the facility allows children. The actual rules for such a visit will vary among the facilities.
Children must be at least eleven years old and they must be accompanied by an adult. We've found that this intergenerational approach has special benefits to everyone involved.
Can I choose the type of facility I visit?
In most cases, yes. This is an advantage of servicing such a wide variety of facilities. We will do our best to accommodate your schedule and your preferences.
If you have a particular facility that isn't on our list that you'd like us to visit, we would be happy to contact them with the intent of arranging PRAAT visits.
Will I be paid for my visits?
No. This is strictly a volunteer program. We are looking for volunteers who simply want to share the joy and warmth of their dogs with others.
There are people (nurses, psychologists, social workers, etc.) who do get paid for making similar animal assisted therapy visits. We have had volunteers who were introduced to PRAAT through our program and have used this experience as a stepping stone to further their own careers.
How do I join?
Call us and we will schedule a screening appointment.
Who do I call?
Go to our Contact page for more information.