Brightening Your Day One Pet at a Time
Through the stress of medical testing, recovering from surgery or worrying about the condition of a loved one, dogs are able to provide a much-needed diversion from a patient’s problems. They relieve agitation, anxiety, and stress in patients, and bring smiles and joy to the hearts of many.
Fairfield Medical Center’s pet therapy program uses trained volunteers and their dogs to provide comfort to adults and children who request a pet therapy visit during their stay. Several different breeds are involved in the program and all dogs are required to be registered through an acceptable organization.
What are the requirements/training to become a pet therapy team at Fairfield Medical Center?
- There is no specific training that is required.
- There are three important keys to a successful pet therapy team: basic obedience, a calm and gentle disposition, and a good relationship between the handler and the pet.
- The handler and the pet must successfully complete a testing process through an approved agency to become a registered pet therapy team. The minimum age of the dog to test is one year. Currently, Fairfield Medical Center accepts registered pet therapy teams from Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
How do you become a pet therapy team?
Alliance of Therapy Dogs has an excellent website that walks you through the process:
The steps are as follows:
- Background check
- Download & complete paperwork
- Find a volunteer tester/observer
- Schedule testing
- Paperwork & fee
Once you are a registered ATD pet therapy team, you then begin the process to apply as a volunteer at Fairfield Medical Center. This process is started by completing the volunteer application and scheduling an interview. You can download the application here.
What is the testing process like?
- You meet the tester/observer in a care setting or other public meeting place. Sometimes there will be other teams testing at the same time.
- The tester/observer will interact with each dog, touching his/her tail, paws, etc. to see how they respond.
- You move through the facility, visiting with people while the tester observes.
- After three different observations (scheduled on different days), the testing process is complete.