Pets and Friends provides and promotes the healing comfort and companionship of animals.
A small group of caregivers at Shaughnessy Hospital took their pets to work and observed the difference their pets made with the patients. The residents responded with smiles, became more social, and showed signs of improved well-being. The caregivers then approached the Vancouver Regional Branch of the BC SPCA for funding to promote and expand the program, and in 1982 BC Interact (as it was known then) was founded. In 1986, we became a registered non-profit organization with a slight name change to the BC Society for Human/Animal Interaction – BC Interact. In 1994, the name was change to the current BC Pets and Friends.
Pets and Friends is a registered non-profit society run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Founded on the belief that people benefit emotionally and physically from regular interactions with loving companion animals, our highly successful pet visitation program brings animal companionship to residents of hospitals and long-term care facilities all over the Lower Mainland.
Our members are people with loving pets who want to share them – including dogs, cats, and rabbits. Many volunteers have had experiences with family members who have been in hospitals or seniors homes and have seen how supportive pet visitation can be. Our volunteers feel good knowing that they bring comfort and companionship to the isolated and lonely. A wide variety of people benefit from our program, including elders, persons living with disabilities and chronic physical and mental conditions and young adults.
What We Do
Pets and Friends provides free pet visitation to care and educational facilities in the Lower Mainland. Each year, our long-running (1982) and highly effective pet visitation program touches the lives of more than 15,000 people in over 200 health care and educational settings across the Lower Mainland.
Pets and Friends screens, coordinates, and provides an orientation for volunteer and pet teams to interact with people in an institutional setting. Pet visitation helps relieve stress, increase optimism, and address the basic human need for companionship (positive interaction, physical affection and acceptance). Animals spark positive memories in former pet owners and provide depressed and withdrawn people with meaningful social contact. It also helps residents who have recently lost their independence to make the transition to facility living.
How It Works
Pets and Friends provides volunteers with screening, orientation, and facility placement services. After screening and orientation, pet-owner teams are placed with their desired facility which they will visit regularly for at least a year.
During a typical visit, a volunteer team spends about an hour interacting with residents, who quickly form a heartfelt connection with the companion animal. Residents touched by this experience continue to look forward to Pets and Friends volunteer teams on a regular basis. Our volunteers make a point of visiting on a regular schedule to maximize residents’ sense of security and promote a positive outlook.
Are you and your pet interested in becoming a Pets and Friends volunteer team? Click here for more information.