Frequently Asked Questions
PeTS will ratify dogs and cats as pet therapy animals, once they have reached the age of 24 months. We don’t have evaluation criteria established for assessing other types of animals at this time.
Yes, we definitely love puppies, but younger animals are less predictable in their behavior, and may accidentally injure a client with those sharp puppy teeth. If your pet is under 2 years old, you can help prepare them for pet therapy through socialization activities
There is no maximum age for pet therapy animals.
No, our pet therapy animals don’t have to be spayed/neutered. Teams only need to pause pet therapy visits when their female pets are in heat, pregnant, or nursing.
We require our pet therapy animals to be free of parasites, infection, and disease before visiting clients, to minimize the risk of zoonosis (infectious diseases spreading from pets to humans).
We require our pet therapy dogs and cats to receive the core vaccines recommended by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
- For dogs, this includes: Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, and Rabies.
- For cats, this includes: Feline Panleukopenia (cat flu/cat distemper), Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus) and Calicivirus, and Rabies.
- We also require an annual medical and dental assessment by your veterinarian, including a fecal float test to check for intestinal parasites.
- Pets with skin problems (fleas, lice, ear mites, mange, etc), must pause pet therapy visits until the problems have been resolved. Flea collars, if used, should be removed at least 24 hours prior to a visit.
Yes, PeTS will accept titre test results in lieu of vaccination records, provided the titre testing is completed within 45 days of the PEP weekend that the team attends.
Yes, pets on raw food diets are eligible for ratification. A few of our facility partners, notably Alberta Health Services, won’t allow pets to visit their locations until the animal has been off all raw food & treats for 3+ months. Raw food is any meal or treat containing uncooked or freeze dried meat products. This includes treats such as rawhide chews, bully sticks, frozen bones, and pigs ears. A good rule of thumb: if the food package advises you to wash your hands after handling, this is considered raw food.
If you have permission from a family member to use their pet for pet therapy, you can go through the ratification process with that animal. You and the animal should know each other for at least 6 months, and the animal should follow your commands.
PeTS does not offer or require any formal training. We test for basic obedience and temperament in our Pre-Screen ratification step. Pre-Screen is a series of tests split into an obedience portion (dogs only) and a temperament portion (dogs and cats).
Keep practicing! There are a lot of great training videos on YouTube that you might benefit from watching and trying on your own (for free!). Alternatively, the Edmonton Humane Society and PetSmart both offer obedience and pet therapy courses, and multiple trainers offer the Canadian Kennel Club’s Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) program.
Temperament, your pet’s physical and mental reaction to a stimulus, is a little trickier to change, because it’s linked to genetics and socialization at an early age. If your pet is anxious the first time they see or experience something, their anxiety might decrease the more times they are exposed, or their anxiety might increase. Pet therapy should be enjoyable for you and your pet, as much as for our clients, so only continue if it’s a positive experience.
Not all teams pass Pre-Screen on their first attempt. As long as your pet isn’t aggressive towards people or animals during Pre-Screen, they are welcome to try again; we allow up to three attempts for the initial Pre-Screen cost. After you attempt Pre-Screen, we gather feedback from our evaluators to provide you with a report highlighting the successes and challenges, with recommendations to help your next Pre-Screen attempt be successful.
It typically takes 6 – 9 months for a team to be ratified. The timeline varies depending on when you can attend the required events (Pre-Screen, Paws to Visit, PEP Weekend, Practicum Visits), and can take longer if you need to repeat steps.
It costs an average of $250 in the first year to be ratified. The membership ($30) and Pre-Screen ($70) fees help cover the cost of the PeTS Center, where most of the ratification steps are held, and well as the administrative costs for the programs themselves. As a not-for-profit, none of our board members or members are paid for the time they volunteer. The remaining ratification costs (vaccinations, animal health assessment, fecal float test) are outside of PeTS control. To minimize the veterinary costs, bring the PeTS’ Animal Health Assessment form to your veterinarian during your annual wellness visit to avoid needing an extra visit before PEP weekend.
We have over 75 facility partners in and around Edmonton with more requests coming in weekly. Once ratified, you will have access to the list of facilities, and the ability to choose where to visit. We also have special annual and semi-annual events that ask for pet therapy teams to attend. These events are communicated to members 2 or more weeks prior, so that members can sign up for the events they are interested in.
New facilities are welcome to request pet therapy visits from PeTS using our request form. Once their request is approved, you will be able to visit them on behalf of PeTS. If PeTS has not approved a facility or event, any visits by our members are considered unsanctioned and not covered by our insurance if something happens. Volunteers should not wear any PeTS merchandise (name tag, lanyard, pet bandana) outside of sanctioned PeTS locations and events.
No, pet therapy ratification doesn’t grant you the authority to bring your pet to work, onto airports, or into restaurants – pet therapy animals do not get the same level of public access as service animals. Pet therapy ratification qualifies you and your pet to perform pet therapy services at facilities that PeTS has partnered with. If your office is a facility partner, you can perform pet therapy visits there, on your personal time. Keep in mind that pet therapy visits are not meant to last for an entire working day, it would be too exhausting for the pet. It’s also difficult for the human to perform their handler duties while also working their “day job”.
All prospective handlers and animals need to be ratified with PeTS in order to be covered by our insurance. We may have different requirements that the organization you have previously qualified with. If you are active with another pet therapy organization, you can volunteer with PeTS as long as you are not on the board of directors for the other organization. You are not be eligible to join our board of directors while a member of the other organization, as to prevent a conflict of interest between the organizations.
Our therapy animals are all owned and loved by our volunteers, none of them are for sale.
If you’re looking for a service dog to help with any disabilities you may have, Alberta.ca has a list of approved service dog organizations you can reach out to. If you’re looking for a companion animal to be with you at home, any breed of dog or cat can make for an excellent pet. Some great treats that we look for in our therapy animals include: adaptable, calm, confident, friendly, loves people, patient, predictable, responsive, sensitive, and trusting.
Please email us at email@example.com and one of our volunteers will be happy to answer any question(s) you may have. Please allow 48-72 hours for a response.
The first step is to ensure you have all the relevant information about pet therapy by registering and attending one of our in-person Information Sessions or testing your knowledge with our online PeTS 101 quiz.