A Walk Through Our Process

If your dog is friendly and social and enjoys meeting new people, you may have a good candidate for pet therapy work. Check out our eligibility requirements here.

*Update 03 Dec 2019: Pets and Friends will be recruiting new pet therapy teams in January. Stay tuned for more information. *

Handler Profile

The first step to becoming a Pets and Friends pet therapy team is to email info@petsandfriends.org for an application package. Within one (1) week of receipt, Pets and Friends will review your completed application package and set up a phone interview to discuss suitability to our program. We will also follow up with your references.

Tip for Prospective Therapy Dog Teams:

  • Be sure your package is complete. An incomplete package could result in a delay in processing your application.

Pet Evaluation

Now that you’ve successfully completed the handler screening, it’s your pet’s turn! All prospective therapy pets must be evaluated for temperament. Evaluations last about half an hour and are administered by a trained evaluator. Evaluators simulate situations that may arise during visitations and assess your pet’s suitability for therapy work. Click here to view our upcoming pet screening dates and times. 

Tips for Prospective Therapy Dog Teams:

  • All steps are performed on a leash and both harness/collar and leash must be nylon, cloth or canvas.

NOTICE:  Please note that the Pets and Friends pet evaluation process is only for potential Pets and Friends volunteers – as a non-profit organization, our resources are limited and we kindly request that you only apply if you are able to attend and pursue pet therapy visitations. Only those who have received confirmation from Pets and Friends for a scheduled pet evaluation appointment will proceed. Passing your pet’s evaluation does NOT certify your pet as a service animal, or convey any certification of any type. Pets and Friends therapy pets have no public access rights beyond those where our teams have been invited.


After a successful screening, handlers will be invited to attend a three-hour orientation where they will learn all about pet therapy and Pets and Friends’ policies and procedures. Led by an experienced Pets and Friends volunteer, there will be an informative presentation, role playing and a Pets and Friends therapy dog team present to answer any questions you might have. Handlers will receive a volunteer manual and identification badges. This session is for humans only.


All pet therapy teams must be members in good standing. Membership dues are $40.00 per year and initially paid at the orientation, renewable annually on January 1st irrespective of when you join. This fee helps offset the costs associated with volunteer recruitment and training (application, handbook, identification tags) and provides pet therapy teams with third-party liability insurance while visiting at their designated health care facility or supporting other Pets and Friends pet therapy programs.

Tip for Prospective Therapy Dog Team:

  • Volunteers are responsible for renewing their membership on time, and if your membership has lapsed 30 days or more, you will be marked as inactive (more information below) and will no longer be covered under our insurance.

Pet Therapy Placement

At the orientation, handlers will be given a list of health care facilities that have requested our services. Which facility you choose to visit is up to you – many volunteers opt for a facility in their community. Once you have made your selection(s) you will email info@petsandfriends.org and we will assist the new team in setting up visitations.

Tips for Prospective Pet Therapy Team:

  • If you would like to visit at a facility that is not yet a part of our program, please let us know and we will try our best to make it happen.
  • Pet therapy teams must be available to start visiting immediately after they have attended the orientation.


Consistency is a very important part of the Pets and Friends program, so we ask that you commit to and maintain regularly scheduled visitations at the site of your choice for at least one (1) year.


Congratulations! You’ve completed our program and are now a registered and active Pets and Friends Pet Therapy Team!

Other Important Notes

Maintaining Active Pet Therapy Status

Pet therapy teams are required to participate in a minimum of one (1) pet therapy visitation every three months or four (4) per year to maintain active status. Inactive volunteers can be defined as pet therapy teams who have neither provided visitations nor participated in our on-call program for more than six (6) months.

Tips for Prospective Therapy Dog Teams:

  • If you need to suspend or stop your visits for any reason, please contact us at info@petsandfriends.org and let the facility know.
  • Volunteers must notify Pets and Friends and request a leave of absence if visitations are to be suspended for six (6) weeks or more.
  • Visitations in our on-call program at colleges and universities count toward maintaining active status.

Re-Evaluation Policy

If a pet therapy team has not participated in visitations (whether at a designated facility or our on-call program) for one (1) year or more, that team (handler and pet) must be re-evaluated and will need to start the application process again.

Recording Your Visitations

Pet therapy teams are required to record the number of visitations and hours they donate to Pets and Friends, submitting their logs bi-annually to info@petsandfriends.org.

Recognition Programs

Applause for Paws Applause for Paws is Pets and Friends own recognition program, designed to acknowledge the commitment, dedication and efforts of our pet therapy teams in sharing the unconditional love and acceptance of their therapy pet with those in need of a friendly visit. AKC Therapy Dog Program Pets and Friends is pleased to be a recognized therapy dog organization through the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Pet Therapy Program. This enables Pets and Friends’ therapy dogs to earn titles through the AKC for their recorded visitations to authorized  Pets and Friends programs and facilities.