What types of animals do you certify?
Currently we accept cats, dogs, and rabbits.
Does my animal require training prior to going through your program?
No formal obedience training is required, and our organization does not provide basic training. Animals must have good manners, be friendly, and easily managed by their handler. All animals involved in any kind of pet therapy must be well socialized around people, other animals, and be capable of adapting to new or unusual situations. Examples of this would be walkers, wheelchairs, elevators, being handled by strangers, etc.
How old does my animal need to be?
All animals must be a minimum of two (2) years old before starting the Pet Therapy program. Younger animals are still developing their personalities and temperaments and will therefore not have the predictable behaviour necessary for a good therapy animal. Visiting in unfamiliar surroundings is stressful and therapy animals need to be mature and confident in order to handle the environment they will encounter.
If your dog is too young to start the process with us, and you’d like to get a head start, you can try some of the following things;
• Take your dog wherever dogs are allowed! Many businesses (please call ahead!) and pet stores allow animals. This will help get them used to new locations and new things such as automatic doors and being around new people.
• Basic obedience training. While we do not require obedience training, your animal does need to be easily handled by you and must obey basic commands.
• The Edmonton Humane Society offers a course to ready dogs for pet therapy. Again, this is not a requirement but if you are anxious to get started it is something you can do to assist your dog in being ready for our program. EHS’s program can be found here.
Does my animal need to be spayed or neutered?
At this time, we do not require your pet to be spayed or neutered. However, if you complete the program, any females in heat will need to stay home during that time. Please also do not bring pregnant or nursing animals.
Do you require vaccinations?
Yes. All animals must have their annual health examination, and maintain their vaccine schedule as well as an annual fecal test (even if preventative medications are currently being prescribed). Not only is this a requirement for the Pet Therapy Society of Northern Alberta, but many of our facilities also require proof of this. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
Are members paid?
We are a not for profit organization run, at this time, by volunteers. We provide pet visitation at no charge but we gratefully accept donations or honorariums. Please consider us in your charitable giving plans. You can donate here. Tax receipts are issues for amounts over $20.
Do you offer certification for service dogs or emotional support animals?
No. We provide certification only for therapy animals doing pet visitation. Therapy animals are trained to provide support and well-being for people other than their handler. They go out into the community in places such as nursing homes, schools, businesses, etc.
We do not provide training for guide dogs, psychiatric service dogs, medical alert dogs, etc.
Where are some of the places your therapy teams visit?
Our teams go to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, among many other places! We also frequently have what we like to call “Stress Busters” which is typically a one-time visit to somewhere for a specific event. For example, the City of Edmonton will often have some of our teams come out and help destress their employees. Numerous other business and charitable organizations (such as Homeless Connect) have our teams come out to visit on an annual or semi-annual basis.
Why does my pet need to be certified to visit somewhere? Can I not just bring my dog to visit a nursing home without going through your program?
Organizations such as ours have standards in place to ensure animals (and handlers) that go through the program are of the appropriate temperament and have been properly assessed and trained. Once you pass, as long as you are following our Society’s rules and regulations, you are covered by our liability insurance. If you go out on your own, without any training or certification, you may not have the proper insurance should an incident occur.
I’ve read the above information, now how do I get started?
The first step in the process is to attend an info session evening. Please see our events page here.
I am a facility or business interested in having some therapy animals come and visit. What do I do?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give us as much information as you can. Your business name and location, what type of facility you are, any dates or times you have in mind, etc.
I have a question I don’t see answered here. What is the best way to contact you?
Please email us at email@example.com and one of our volunteers will be happy to answer any question(s) you may have. Emails are answered daily Monday – Friday. Please allow 48-72 hours for a response.