Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Volunteers
Ways to Help
We provide an Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program to patients and their families for therapeutic purposes. Scientific research has shown a patient's interaction with an animal can provide positive physical and emotional benefits. It can reduce stress levels and invoke a sense of well-being. AAT acts as a catalyst to motivate patients to help themselves. Among the benefits of animal-assisted therapy are the ways it motivates children to:
- Get up, move, walk, leave their room and play.
- Participate in therapy (physical, occupational and speech).
- Forget their discomfort or pain.
- Interact more with others.
- Improve their mood.
- Improve their interactions with family and staff.
- Do things that may be a struggle, such as eating, taking medication or waiting.
Volunteering with a Pet
If you would like to volunteer with your pet, first you become registered as a therapy animal team. Our Paws Can Heal therapy animal teams are nationally registered and have 3 to 12 months of experience.
Phoenix Children's recognizes three national organizations:
- Pet Partners: www.petpartners.org
- Therapy Dogs International: www.tdi-dog.org
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs, formerly known as Therapy Dogs Inc.: www.therapydogs.com
An evaluator will test you and your pet. Your pet needs to be calm, predictable, pass basic obedience skills and be comfortable in a variety of settings.
Once you have 3 to 12 months experience as a therapy animal team, your next step is to register as an In-hospital volunteer [See NOTE].
NOTE: In-Hospital volunteer registration is closed at this time. In-Hospital Volunteer Applications will be accepted beginning October 7, 2019. Until then, you can be working on your therapy dog registration, getting in your experience time and practicing new skills. There is also good reading information at www.petpartners.org. Please check back beginning October 7th for application instructions and to apply.
Volunteering without a Pet
Whether or not you have a pet, you can still volunteer as part of our Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program! We need volunteers to go with each Paws Can Heal team on their AAT visits. They help keep our patients safe, gather data on the patient visit and help patients meet their treatment goals. Watch the video: Animal-Assisted Therapy Volunteer Escort
All prospective volunteers must become a registered In-Hospital volunteer [See NOTE].
NOTE: In-Hospital volunteer registration is closed at this time. In-Hospital Volunteer Applications will be accepted beginning October 7, 2019. Please check back at that time for application instructions and to apply. In the meantime, we are always looking for Community Volunteers to help with a variety of activities. Signing up is easy, just visit our Community Volunteer Page. We look forward to hearing from you!