What is Pet-assisted Therapy?
Pet-assisted therapy is generally called “pet therapy.” It is the use of companion animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs to aid people with special needs. It is based on the theory that all people need to feel a sense of worth. Often, when that sense of worth or being loved cannot be met by humans, an animal can fulfill it. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has a dedicated group of volunteers that visit nursing homes and hospitals each month with their well-behaved pets to share the love of a pet with residents and patients.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pet-Assisted Therapy Program
Our major concentration has been in a geriatric program, working with area nursing homes. We have expanded the program to include the emotionally disturbed, visiting psychiatric units. We have also partnered with Arlington County’s teen outreach programs, working with teenagers who are in need of a little extra attention. Although we currently do not work with any registered pet therapists, the program has been therapeutic in many aspects to the patients and residents in the many homes and institutions we visit.
Volunteers in the Pet Therapy Program
The pet therapy program would not exist without volunteers, but the program is not for everyone. A volunteer must have a basic understanding of what the program entails before making a commitment. Pet therapy is not just setting kittens and puppies in an elderly person’s lap and walking away. Neither is it standing in front of a patient and just “showing off” a baby animal. Before the “therapeutic” part of the program can begin, volunteers must be aware of the gaps in certain programs that pet therapy tries to fill in its small way. The shelter requires that Pet Therapy volunteers attend a volunteer orientation and a pet therapy training session before joining the program.
Contact Us About Pet Therapy
If you are interested in volunteering for the pet therapy program, please see the information on volunteering on this Web site. If you work for a nursing home or other facility whose residents would benefit from a pet therapy group, please email our Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com or call (703) 931-9241 ext 200.