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How did Paws 4 Healing Get Started?

Paws 4 Healing was founded in September 2003 by a group of experienced AAA/T teams.  The founding members wanted to create an organization that would focus on sharing the unconditional love of their pets. Nearly all of the founding members are still active with Paws 4 Healing and are members of the Board of Directors.


Where do Paws 4 Healing teams visit?

Our volunteers visit facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, schools, children’s centers, and battered women’s homes to name a few.  Most facilities we visit are setup on scheduled visits, while some can be visited on a flexible schedule.

Some of our teams participate in reading programs for children to encourage and improve reading skills.  These reading programs are held in schools, libraries and other venues.

We participate in a variety of events, conferences, fairs, parades, and expos for the purpose of spreading the word about Animal-Assisted Activities and Animal-Assisted Therapy.  These events give us an opportunity to meet people to tell them about pet therapy.


Where do Paws 4 Healing animals come from?

All Paws 4 Healing teams volunteer with their own pets.  All visiting pets must pass a physical and behavioral evaluation before attending visits. All Paws 4 Healing teams are evaluated every two years and are registered with Pet Partners®.


Are Therapy Dogs the same as Service Dogs?

The short answer is No.  A common question for people interested in getting involved with Animal-Assisted Activities/Therapy is about taking their animal into public places such as stores, restaurants, and even airplanes.  A therapy animal is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) and therefore you do not have access rights as does a service dog.  It is a violation of the Pet Partners® Ethics Agreement to claim your therapy dog is a service animal.  Paws 4 Healing members who claim their therapy dog is a service dog may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including the violation being reported to Pet Partners® and termination of membership from Paws 4 Healing.


What is a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), a dog is considered a "service dog" if it has been "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." Also according to the ADA, a "disability" is a "mental or physical condition which substantially limits a major life activity" such as:

  • caring for one's self

  • performing manual tasks

  • walking

  • seeing

  • hearing

  • speaking

  • breathing

  • learning

  • working


Some disabilities may not be visible, such as:

  • deafness

  • epilepsy

  • psychiatric conditions


To be considered a service dog, the dog must be trained to perform tasks directly related to the handler's disability.  To learn more about service animals and their rights:


Therapy Dogs are not considered
Service Dogs under Federal law


Does Paws 4 Healing help train animals for pet therapy?

No. All Paws 4 Healing teams train their own animals for AAA/T.  We occasionally offer the Pet Partners® Handlers Workshop. However, this workshop is intended to train the "human" end of the leash. It does not provide animal training.


How long does it take to train a dog to volunteer in pet therapy?

Most of our teams would say it took them about 6 months to train themselves and their dog for pet therapy volunteering.


Why is Paws 4 Healing a Community Partner of Pet Partners®?

The founders of Paws 4 Healing believed the Pet Partners® evaluation process would be the best way to achieve credibility when approaching new facilities to visit.  In addition, several of the founders were already registered with Pet Partners® and were Licensed Pet Partners® Evaluators.  Since that time several more members have become Licensed Pet Partners® Evaluators.


What kind of time commitment do I have to make to join Paws 4 Healing?

Most AAA/T visits last about 1 to 2 hours in length.  Pet Partners® does not recommend visiting longer than 2 hours with your pet.  Volunteers can choose from our participating sites to ensure they visit facilities and people that suit their schedule, locations near their home, and that suit their personal preferences and animal’s temperament.  The teams evaluation rating (predictable or complex) will factor into deciding where to visit.

Volunteers can visit as much as they want as long as they don't overwork their pets.  Some teams visit 2-3 times per month, while others visit more than 10 times per month.  The choice is up to you.


What's the Pet Partners Evaluation like?

You can learn more about what the evaluation process is by linking to: Evaluation Process


Can I join Paws 4 Healing with an animal other than a dog?

Certainly. Most members are registered with their dogs.  However, we can evaluate you if you have other kinds of domestic animals.  Consult the Pet Partners® website for more information about what species of animals can be registered. Keep in mind that the facilities we support may also have restrictions on the types of animals they allow to visit.


What does it cost to join Paws 4 Healing?

Actually, nothing.  Paws 4 Healing does not ask our members to pay membership dues.  However, you will have to pay the required Pet Partners® membership dues every two years to be a member of Pet Partners®.  In addition, there are some costs related to purchasing a Paws 4 Healing shirt and cape for your dog. Depending on the types of visits you want to do, you may also have additional expenses to join a hospital program or to meet other specific facility requirements.


Why should I join a Pet Partners® Community Partner group?

A Pet Partners Community Partner can help members in "learning the ropes" and can assist them with any questions or concerns about your visits. But, we feel there are other reasons to join an Community Partner, such as: camaraderie of other teams, you won't feel alone, you can learn from more experienced teams, and you can make visits with other teams.


I would like to visit a specific facility.  May I do this?

We are more than happy to add a facility to our visit list IF we have a team(s) that are willing to visit there.  We do receive frequent requests from people to come and visit a loved one at a facility or their homes.  Unfortunately we are unable to make individual visit requests in most cases.


How does Paws 4 Healing operate?

Paws 4 Healing is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit California corporation and governed by its corporate bylaws, and the supervised by a Board of Directors.  We are an all-volunteer organization, including our volunteers who help administer, manage, and deliver our services.


Who supports Paws 4 Healing?

Paws 4 Healing is structured so that it doesn't take a lot of money to run our operations.  We have received some donations and have a few fundraising opportunities each year.  We have received contributions from a few corporate entities.


I'm a member of another therapy dog organization.  Can I join Paws 4 Healing as well?

No.  To avoid conflicts with different insurance policies, Pet Partners® does not accept members who are members of any other type of therapy dog related program or organization. They will only register members who make a full and exclusive commitment to the Pet Partners® organization.  As a Community Partner of Pet Partners®, all of our teams must be registered with Pet Partners®.  This requirement is due to liability insurance limitations.


Can I adopt or turn in a rescued pet to Paws 4 Healing?

No.  We are an Animal-Assisted Activity/Therapy organization whose members visit people in need with our own pets.  We are not a rescue group.  You might want to search online for rescue organizations.


Sharing The Unconditional Love Of Our Pets

Paws 4 Healing, Inc. is an all volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit California Corporation

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Updated: October 29, 2017