What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy Dog is a dog with an outstanding temperament

A Therapy Dog tolerates other animals

A Therapy Dog wants to visit with people

A Therapy Dog loves children

A Therapy Dog gets along with other dogs

Why Don't Therapy Dogs
Wear Vests?



Therapy Dogs are to be petted, and vests cut down on the petting area.  Additionally, the use of vests can confuse a Therapy Dog with a Service Dog.


A TDI Therapy Dog on Visits is
Identified by:

A TDI Bandana

A current TDI ID Tag

A flat buckle collar or simple harness

A current TDI ID Card

   ~   ~  

What Is TDI?
Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) is a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their Therapy Dogs for visitations to institutions, facilities, and any other place where Therapy Dogs are needed.
TDI is a non-profit organization. There is no charge for visitations. All funds are derived from Associate Membership dues. Donations or bequests are welcome.
The primary objective of the TDI dog and handler is to provide comfort and companionship by sharing the dog with the patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions and wherever else the Therapy Dog is needed. This is done in a way that increases emotional well-being, promotes healing, and improves the quality of life for the people being visited and the staff that cares for these people.
Who Belongs to TDI?
Volunteer handlers and their dogs are located throughout the United States and Canada and some other countries. TDI was founded in 1976 and has its headquarters in Flanders, New Jersey. In 1989 TDI was completely reorganized under the direction of the current volunteer President/CEO, Ursula A. Kempe.
Canine membership includes both purebred and mixed breed dogs. All dogs are tested and evaluated for Therapy Dog work by Certified TDI Evaluators. While many dogs provide love and companionship in the home, not all dogs are qualified or have the temperament suited to be a Therapy Dog. TDI’s standards are extremely high.
How Can Health Care Professionals Use TDI Dogs?
Regular visits from Therapy Dogs and their handlers provide stimulation for conversation in mental health counseling. TDI Dogs can even encourage interest in physical therapy. (Not only does petting a dog’s shiny coat feel good, it can be used as the basis for exercise and a reason to start physical therapy.)
TDI Dogs elevate the mood of the facility in general and specifically with the staff and residents’ family members. Families feel better having their loved one live in a facility where the staff cares enough to arrange Therapy Dog visits.
What Do TDI Dogs Do?
The dogs bring sparkle to a sterile day, provide a lively subject for conversation, and rekindle old memories of previously owned pets. TDI Dogs come in all shapes and sizes; real dogs with real personalities and real love to share. Some have pedigrees, some have been adopted. All are very proud to wear their TDI Tags.
The volunteers in the program and the dogs who visit with those in care facilities do make a
difference in the quality of life. Real therapy is provided between animals and people.
The first time a dog prances into a care facility, most people do a double take. A split second later broad smiles stretch across faces. Regardless of how residents look or how they feel, the animals are happy to see them. Those who live or must stay in a care facility truly benefit from the unconditional love and acceptance provided by TDI Dogs. Typically, there is an immediate response to the tail wagging greetings and warm paws.
Four-footed therapists give something special to enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching, and talking with animals, patients’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved, and depression is eased.
TDI is aware of the necessity for continuing clinical studies on the human-animal bond and TDI volunteers are willing to participate whenever needed. Each TDI volunteer as an individual has made tremendous difference in the lives of so many, by sharing their canine companion with those who no longer are able to have a dog of their own. Just think! How sad it would be if you could never touch a dog again.

“A Dog Will Love You Forever”



You and your dog must pass the TDI EVALUATION FOR SUITABILITY TO BECOME A POTENTIAL THERAPY DOG/HANDLER TEAM. For more information on the Test Requirements, please view our Testing Requirements page.


All TDI Therapy Dogs are required to meet the following health requirements before being registered:

Annual Check-up attested to by your Veterinarian within the past year.

Mandatory Rabies Vaccine (1, 2, OR 3 YEAR - MUST BE GIVEN BY A VETERINARIAN)

An initial series of core Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus Vaccinations.

A negative Fecal Exam must have been done within the past year.

A negative Heartworm test must have been done within the past year unless there is no heartworm present in the area or if the dog is on preventative medication.


If there are no Evaluators within 4 hours driving distance from your location, you may apply for Limited Registration by sending your request with an Administration fee of $10.00 to TDI along with the following:

1) A copy of your AKC-CGC test form or Certificate for your dog (which must have been awarded within 3 months of your application and conducted by an AKC Obedience Judge) and a letter from the AKC Obedience Judge attesting to the absolute mental soundness of your dog. We will not accept evaluations from a person who is a CGC evaluator.

For additional information and details on the AKC’s CGC Test call or write:

The American Kennel Club
Attn.: CGC Dept.
PO Box 900064   

Raleigh, NC   27675-9064 
Phone: (919) 816-3894



2) A letter of recommendation from an Animal Health Care Professional (Veterinarian).

3) Letter(s) of recommendation from any institution(s) you are planning to visit. Letters should be on the facility’s letterhead and must include a statement that they would welcome visitations from you and your dog.

Once TDI receives these materials, we will review your application and contact you.

To view the Health Requirements all TDI Dogs must meet, please see the “Associate Membership” section above.


If there are no Evaluators in your country, you may apply for Limited Registration by sending your request with an Administration fee of $10.00 to TDI along with the following:

1) A copy of your test form or Certificate for your dog (which must have been awarded within 3 months of your application) and a letter from an Obedience Judge - attesting to the absolute mental soundness of your dog. Your dog must be Evaluated by an Obedience Judge who is registered through an accredited Kennel Club in your country.

2) A letter of recommendation from an Animal Health Care Professional (Veterinarian).

3) Letter(s) of recommendation from any institution(s) you are planning to visit. Letters should be on the facility’s letterhead and must include a statement that they would welcome visitations from you and your dog.

Once TDI receives these materials, we will review your application and contact you.

To view the Health Requirements all TDI Dogs must meet, please see the “Associate Membership” section above.


Libraries are often a quiet place where both children and adults can research a topic or find a good story, but when children or adults visit a library and see a dog, the environment may become a little more exciting.

Therapy Dogs International’s “Tail Waggin’ Tutors” program encourages children to read by providing a non-judgmental listener and furry friend to read to that won’t laugh at them if they make a mistake or stumble over a word, but rather lie next to them and enjoy the story being read to them. The children learn to associate reading with being with the dog, and begin to view reading in a positive way. Over time, the child’s reading ability and confidence can improve because they are practicing their skills, which will make them enjoy reading even more.

Libraries have had great success by utilizing “Tail Waggin’ Tutors” as part of their Summer Reading Program or After-school Program. While the program was initially developed for struggling readers, even those who can already read well don’t want to pass up the chance to read to a Therapy Dog. Even the parents seem to get a real kick out of their child reading to a dog, and they certainly welcome the idea of their son or daughter being so excited to go to the library on a Saturday!

In a library, the reading sessions usually take place in a quiet, comfortable area. The child picks out a book that he or she would like to read, and sits down next to the dog and handler and start reading. (We often find that the book is one the child thinks the dog would enjoy!) The visits are often short, but the impact lasts longer than just the session, as the child may be more likely to read on his or her own.

Reading is a wonderful opportunity for a child to build his or her imagination and begin to build skills for his or her future. Libraries are a wonderful resource, and Therapy Dogs can be a great way to help children discover how much fun their local library can be!

Assisted Living

DSR (Disaster Stress Relief)

Please click to view details of our Disaster Stress Relief (DSR) Team's responses to the following events:

Oklahoma City Bombing

September 11, 2001

Hurricane Katrina

Click here for contact information regarding our DSR Program

Oklahoma City
Heartache in the Heartland

Approximately 20 Therapy Dogs International volunteers and their dogs responded after the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. This was our first experience in working with people affected by a terrorist attack. The emotional impact of the attack affected most people in the United States. To remember the victims and the helpers at the Oklahoma City bombing, we created a special newsletter in the fall of 1995 Heartache in the Heartland. Here is a quote from this newsletter, a quote that can be applied to any disaster where we have responded.

"...Dogs were hugged and petted by the families of the victims, displaced persons, members of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, clergy, police officers, firefighters, U.S. Army Reserve troops and other relief workers."

After the experience gained in Oklahoma City we realized how important the use of Therapy Dogs are in working with people affected by a disaster.

September 11, 2001

"Paws amidst Pain"
by Sarah Sypniewski

The hours upon hours you pad through these paths of pain,
are the hours you help us see the light through the pouring rain.
You never falter, never fail, and always call to mind,
the joy and inspiration that’s sometimes hard to find.
As we muddle through the wreckage that’s half hope and half despair,
You stand by like an anchor, tail wagging in the air.

With every touch you heal us, from fur to human heart,
solace in each stroke, you prevent our falling apart.
You never complain and though you cry, you do not show your tears,
you swallow them back, hold your post and calm so many fears.
Your spirit penetrates our beings right into our souls,
You let us touch and talk to you as we try to fill the holes.

There are times we want to just give up and head back to our homes,
and there you are with pricked up ears and then we’re not alone.
You sign, surrender, knowingly roll onto your back,
"Here’s my tummy - you can have it…just give me a snack."

You do so much for us we just can’t do ourselves,
you specialize in soul speak that never ceases to delve.
Straight into the place we do not talk about,
You let us cry and let us laugh and get all of it out.

So before I go, I want to say I hope you know the truth,
you saved me every single day, I survived because of you.

"Dedicated to the therapy dogs at Pier 94 in NYC who work so hard responding to the human mess of 9/11, particularly to my special friend, Wusel*. Thank you, dogs and humans for your undying love."

wpe3.gif (63466 bytes)
is owned by Ursula A. Kempe, President of TDI.

Thank you Sarah, we love your beautiful poem, it was shared and read by our volunteers. Thank you for your work at Pier 94.
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The taking of photographs at the FACs was not permitted out of respect for the grieving families.

Volunteers, the Spirit of America

The generosity of Americans is known throughout the world. The tradition of volunteering is one of the finest examples of the American spirit of giving. This volunteer spirit is clearly evident in times of disaster, as Americans from all walks of life and all parts of the country come together to help their neighbors in distress.

The Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) volunteer members exemplify the mission of TDI, to bring comfort and consolation to everyone and anyone, wherever it is needed. TDI DSR (Disaster Stress Relief) volunteers now courageously join disaster relief efforts all across the country.

TDI members and their Therapy Dogs responded to the call for help from Oklahoma City in the aftermath of the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. After September 11, 2001 (9/11), people who lost loved ones in the destruction of the World Trade Center (afterwards known as ground Zero) and a section of the Pentagon, as well as people who suffered injuries and loss of property, were directed to "Family Assistance Centers" (FACs). TDI members and their Therapy Dogs volunteered at FACs in New York City, New York, Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, and in Washington, D.C.

…Dogs were hugged and petted by the families of the victims, displaced persons, members of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, clergy, police officers, firefighters, U.S. Army Reserve troops and other relief workers.

This quote was taken from our special edition newsletter of Fall 1995, Heartache in the Heartland. The words sounded all too familiar to volunteers working at the various disaster sites after September 11th.

From the experiences of TDI members at these disasters, the TDI DSR program was created. TDI DSR members volunteered their services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to provide stress relief for refugees as well as the rescue workers coming to and from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

TDI volunteers are the key that unlocks the door through which professionals can enter the world of people affected by disasters. Because people are drawn to dogs, people will talk to a TDI handler, or, often, a Therapy Dog, when they are still in shock; when they are unable to process the necessary information available from professional assistance.

TDI handlers perform a necessary triage service by assessing the needs of an individual and discreetly beckoning the appropriate health care worker to come to the aid of the individual, thus getting the right help to the right person at the right time.

The TDI Therapy Dogs also provide hugging time for the professionals (including police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and other relief workers and volunteers, as well as members of the clergy), who suffer their own emotional pain when dealing with the devastating pain of others.

In this section of our Web site, TDI pays tribute to all our 9/11 human and canine volunteers. At the FACs set up at Pier 94 in New York City, Liberty State Park, and near the Pentagon, more than 150 TDI members and Therapy Dog teams attended to the emotional needs of displaced persons, family members and relief workers.

The TDI Therapy Dogs who participated in the 9/11 relief efforts gave everyone unconditional love, a feat unmatched by fellow humans. The TDI volunteers and their Therapy Dogs covered various shifts for a period of three months at the FAC at Pier 94 in New York City, until the closing in December. In Washington, D. C., TDI members volunteered for one month at the Pentagon FAC. The TDI handlers received no monetary compensation for their extraordinary efforts in both New York and Washington, D. C., but earned the immeasurable reward of knowing they provided solace and a respite from the unrelenting chaos that a disaster leaves in its wake.

TDI Therapy Dogs and their handlers cannot heal someone's wounds, but they can make a difference in the emotional life and reclamation of a strong self, necessary for the ultimate cure of a victim of disaster. Therapy Dogs International, Inc. salutes the steadfastness and commitment of our volunteer members and their loyal Therapy Dogs for their dedication and resolve during the national crisis of September 11, 2001.

"Dogs comfort when humans cannot"

Firefighters came from their firehouses when the Therapy Dogs walked by near Ground Zero. People from foreign countries understood the language of a dog's unconditional love, as the dogs walked through the Family Assistance Centers. Counselors, Red Cross and Salvation Army personnel, and other relief workers were eager to pet the dogs …looking for just a moment of relief. Our Therapy Dogs provided an avenue to share pet experiences with family members. Subsequently, some families were able to talk about their loved ones while petting the dogs. People affected by the disaster in various ways were glad to pet the dogs to relieve some of their stress and anxiety. The memories for the more than 150 TDI handlers and their dogs that went to NYC/NJ and Washington will live on. We all feel thankful that we were able to share our dogs in a time of great need…. and continue to do so.

Special Response of TDI Dogs in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

In October of 2005, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, we accepted our first assignment with our newly formed Disaster Stress Relief (DSR) dog teams utilizing the experience gained from our involvement after the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. This special unit was formed as one of our Therapy Dog programs. Here is a quote from our 2005 Winter newsletter recounting some of our experiences:

"One particular person that we saw every day in one of the centers we visited was a beautiful eighty-seven year old lady. She had the spirit and movement of a thirty year old. 'I see God in the eyes of this dog,' were the comments to each of us. 'The world needs ninety-nine Therapy Dogs and one human.'"

Contact Information


To request the volunteer services of Therapy Dogs International Disaster Stress Relief dog teams, we need the following:

An official invitation through a recognized agency such as:

Federal Agencies
State Agencies
Municipal Agencies
School Boards
Disaster Stress Relief agencies
Or other agencies in need of our service

Therapy Dogs International (TDI®)
88 Bartley Road
Flanders, NJ 07836
Tel: (973) 252-9800
Fax: (973) 252-7171

Home Visits

TDI is dedicated to providing services to individuals living at home through our "Home Visit Program". With the assistance of our Therapy Dogs, our goal is to help people in need maintain and enhance the best possible level of independent living.

We provide services to people who may have a variety of medical and non-medical issues. Some have family while others live alone but the common trait is the need or desire for companionship from our handlers and their dogs.

Whether a hospice patient, an aging patient or a disabled individual, we hope to improve their quality of life by bringing our Therapy Dogs to their homes where they feel most comfortable. Often, the dogs add a sense of normalcy. Their visits help people feel as if their lives are a little better and at times, more complete. Life may seem more manageable, especially to one who has to stay in bed, if they spend some time with Therapy Dogs. Our visits help to promote healing because the patient is able touch and pet the dog. This allows them to feel like everyone else and their happiness and contentment helps them to do better.

Families are often the primary caregivers for a person who requires care at home. While we are visiting, we're able to give them some time to rest or do necessary chores as the dogs provide the love and companionship to the patient.

Therapy Dogs help people live a life with dignity and love through our "Home Visit Program". TDI dog teams aid in the healing process by providing emotional wellness and ultimately, making a difference in the lives of others.


Hospice work provides a wonderful opportunity to share time with individuals who are in their final stages of life. People are accepted into a hospice program if they are terminally ill and have less than six months to live. They are often placed in a hospital or nursing home setting but some do live at home.

TDI is able to make a tremendous difference to any hospice program by providing comfort, love and companionship through the use of our dogs. Our goal is to enrich the quality of life for the hospice patient and often their families as well. The sight of our dogs and the touch of their fur often brings peace and joy to those patients whose life once included animals. Physical contact has a calming effect and dogs have the ability to bring back pleasant memories of a person's life. Therapy dogs help combat loneliness and they give people the chance to have something to look forward to. Exposure to our dogs allows the patient to feel needed and wanted at a time in their life when death is evident.

Through training and experience, Therapy Dogs become part of the Hospice team. Not all handlers or dogs are suitable for this aspect of therapy work. It is up to the handler to determine if this is the population they and their dog are comfortable working with.

While working with a hospice program, dogs learn to be able to sense the process an individual goes through with death. Signs may include a change in breathing, restlessness or possible disorientation. In addition to the patient, dogs and handlers often have the ability to comfort family members including children. Handlers must recognize if it's appropriate to stay or excuse themselves when the end is near. There are times when the family may request that the therapy dog lay by the end of the bed during the patient's final moments of life. This might be because the patient loved dogs and the sight of the dog brings a sense of normalcy for not only the patient but the family as well.

Being part of a hospice team is a powerful and inspirational experience for a TDI member. It is a benefit for us to be able to bring comfort to people through our dogs.

Hospitals (Children's)

TDI has been doing a wonderful job for many years, working with handlers who wish to share their patient and kind dogs with children who are hospitalized. Having therapy dogs in the hospital helps normalize the setting for children who are away from home under scary and unpleasant circumstances. Sometimes, the staff and parents get as much out of the visit as the children do.

Often a dog, large or small, is the last thing a child expects to see in their room! You will often find that your dog poses for pictures during most of your visits, especially now that many of the patients have camera phones! You will find that even if they miss their pets at home, and although the therapy dog isn’t their dog, it is a furry, loveable dog, and therefore a perfect diversion from the routine of their hospital stay.

Visits with children can be just as beneficial for handlers and dogs, too! Many children are amazingly resilient, and just as we can help cheer them up, they can inspire us with their strength to face their challenges. Parents often report that when their child saw the Therapy Dog, it was the first time they smiled since they had been admitted to the hospital. It goes without saying that the dogs love all the attention they get from everyone.

Not all dogs are suitable for working with children. Children can be loud, rough, and not as understanding as adults. Some children will try to monopolize your time, or crowd the dog. Some laid back dogs thrive on the energy of children, and some busy dogs may get too busy. Just as all dogs are not suitable for a children’s hospital, not all handlers are the best match for the situation either. Some people have difficulty working with children who are injured, sick, or have special challenges. It is up to the handler to know his or her dog.

Children’s hospitals usually have strict admission processes for volunteers. There are often background checks, volunteer orientations, volunteer training, and health screenings a handler must pass before they are permitted to volunteer. The reason for this is that children cannot protect themselves, so the hospitals must make their best effort to do so. Those of us who want to help the children must be willing to jump through a few extra hoops in order to help protect them as well.

Hospitals (General)

When Therapy Dogs International was started in 1976, who would have thought that dogs walking the halls of hospitals would become a common sight?

Many hospitals are proud to have TDI Therapy Dogs visit their facility, and many doctors and administrators also recognize the health benefits the visits can provide. The patients are not the only ones who benefit from the visits, as staff members and visitors often look forward to the visits too. Visits to a large hospital are usually handled through the hospital’s Volunteer Department, and there are sometimes rules that the hospital may have for Therapy Dogs that vary from hospital to hospital.

Visits to a hospital can be extremely varied from patient to patient. Some patients can be transported away from the sterile hospital environment by a dog’s visit. Some patients may be light-hearted and crack jokes or tell the handler about the dog they have at home, while some may not want to see the dog at all. Some visits may involve the Therapy Dog being petted in the lobby by visitors before going through the normal rounds. Some visits to hospital patients and their families can be intensely emotional, but can also be the most beneficial. Individuals who are awaiting major surgery, are depressed, or have not had a visitor in a while can all be comforted and reassured by a visit from a gentle Therapy Dog.

The optimism and happiness a Therapy Dog visit can provide to a patient is one that cannot be measured by a doctor’s instruments or recorded on a patient’s chart. However, it is clear to those who have had the experience of a Therapy Dog visit that a friendly visitor with a wagging tail can make all the difference in the world.

Veteran's Hospitals

Many of our TDI dog/handler teams visit Veteran's Hospitals. Sometimes the handlers are Veterans and can relate on a personal level to the Veterans.

Psychiatric Hospitals

Therapy Dogs are also very much needed to visit at either Psychiatric Units in a hospital or a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital.

Other Hospitals

TDI dog/handler teams will visit any hospital where they are needed.

Nursing Homes






Dog visits and hospitalized children: Do dog visits help calm children who are facing the stress of being in the hospital and away from home and family? A study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Children's Hospital shows that while potential calming effects are inconclusive, the dogs definitely make the children happier. Results of the study, published in the winter 2002-2003 issue of Children's Health Care Journal, confirm that hospitalized children are happier when they get a chance to interact with dogs than when they are given organized playtime. The researchers - Mary Kaminski, director of the hospital's Child Life program; Teresa Pellino, clinical nurse research specialist; and Joel Wish, psychologist and director of Health Psychology - attribute this to the touching that's inherent in visiting with dogs. "This is the first study to look at the effects of animals on hospitalized children," says Linda Sullivan, a clinical instruction in the School of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Pathobiological Sciences and one of the coordinators of the Pet Pals program.

Therapeutic touch: A study by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness, showed that when a human pets a dog, within minutes they get a massive release of beneficial hormones-known to be associated with health and feelings of wellbeing---such as beta endorphin, prolactin, dopamine, oxytocin, and beta phenylethylamine. The release of these hormones not only make people happy---but they also decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. This is an especially significant finding with regards to the treatment of clinically depressed patients. This was the first time a therapeutic relationship between animals and humans had been scientifically measured. This pilot study could provide a safe, natural, and effective alternative to treating the clinically depressed with pharmaceuticals, without the attendant costs and side effects. To many researchers, the most exciting facet of these studies is that positive human-animal interaction may delay production of harmful body chemicals associated with diseases such as cancer. "Additionally, the study indicates an improvement in body chemicals associated with a healthy immune system. We may soon see a time when people at risk for certain types of cancers may be prescribed a pet to help delay onset of the disease," says another researcher.

Pets in the home teach empathy, responsibility and raise IQs: Robert Poresky, associate professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, is one of dozens of researchers examining the impact of having a pet in the home. His findings include evidence that children who have pets - and spend time with them - develop higher levels of empathy, learn responsibility earlier and may even have higher IQs than children who don't have companion animals.

Dogs improve children's reading scores: In Salt Lake City, Utah, Intermountain Therapy Animals has a program where pets stimulate specific intellectual development in public schools. Trained teams of dogs and humans help children who have trouble reading to jump whole grade levels in just a few months in a simple program where children read to dogs.

Allergies: A study published in the August 2002 Journal of The American Medical Association shows that children who grow up with pets in the home have a reduced risk of developing common allergies. Moreover, the children exposed to cats and dogs were almost half as likely to have hyper-responsive and easily irritated airways - a risk factor for asthma. A number of earlier studies found similar results.

Dogs beneficial in speech-language therapy: Helen Kahn, professor of communication disorders at Northern Michigan University, is studying the effects of animals in sessions of speech-pathology therapy. Kahn says that dogs are instantly loyal and eager to please, perfect companions during the sometimes difficult therapy sessions. Her research shows that therapeutic progress occurs more rapidly when dogs are involved in directed intervention with certified and experienced therapists and dog handlers. Findings show that during therapy dog visits, a patient's physical anxiety goes down, measured by lower blood pressure and heart rate, and less stress almost always equals a more productive session.

Dogs good for mental health: Project Chimo - the most extensive study of the use of dogs in therapy in North America - concluded in 2003 with ten recommendations to the Alberta government aimed at formally incorporating animal assisted therapy into the health-care system. The 27-month, $331,600 study funded by Alberta Health's innovation fund, compared animal assisted therapy with traditional therapy for patients in treatment for depression and anxiety. The patients who met with therapists who used dogs in their sessions looked forward to therapy more, felt more comfortable talking to the therapist and felt they performed better at home and school than patients receiving traditional therapy. Pet ownership itself seemed to moderate the effects of mental illness. Patients who had pets were less depressed or anxious at the outset and showed lower scores on the depression severity scale after therapy than those who did not own pets.

Pets lower blood pressure: A study of New York City stockbrokers who were taking medication for hypertension found that once stockbrokers brought a pet into their homes, their stress levels dropped dramatically. Nearly half of them were able to go off of their medication entirely, according to the researcher, Dr. Karen Allen of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Pets help keep people moving: A year-long study of elderly people living outside institutions found that pet owners scored higher on all activities of daily living, including increased social interaction. A recent British study showed that the interactions stimulated by the dog as the key to a better sense of psychological well-being.

Pets help people survive heart attacks: In her latest study reported in The American Journal of Cardiology in 2003, Dr. Erika Friedmann of Brooklyn College found that pet owners have healthier hearts than heart attack patients who don't have a dog, cat or other pets. In an earlier study, she found that those who owned a dog were eight times more likely to survive one year after suffering a heart attack. Other studies showed that pet owners have shorter hospital stays, few doctor visits, take less medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and don't have as much trouble falling asleep at night.

Pets help blunt pain: "By initiating and maintaining the relaxation response pets can take people's focus off of their pain and elevate their moods," says Dr. Jeff Burgess, an attending physician at the University of Washington Pain Center. "Secondly, through touch or physical contact they can block transmission of their pain from the periphery to the central nervous system shutting the pain processing centers down."

Pets and Seniors: Seniors who have pets have far fewer doctor visits than those who don't, according to a study of nearly a thousand Medicare patients by UCLA Public Health Professor Judith Siegel. The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reinforced these findings independently in the United Kingdom. Equally important for the health of seniors is having something to keep them active and to help alleviate the loneliness that many seniors experience. Spending as little as 30 minutes with a dog each week reduces feelings of loneliness in long-term care residents reports a study featured in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences (July 2002).

(Source: Dr. Marty Becker and Delta Society)


Study shows therapy dogs can help

Therapeutic progress for pre-school children with psychiatric disorders and special education needs can be significantly enhanced by the participation of therapy dog teams in the treatment process.

That is the preliminary conclusion of recent pilot study conducted at the Albertina Kerr Center in Portland, Oregon. The Kerr Early Intervention Program provides therapy and services for children between the ages of three and five years who face the challenges of Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder and more, as well as past abuse and neglect.

Therapists found that the dogs encouraged participation in therapy sessions by the children, something that hadn�t always happened previously. Among the results cited in the study:

A severely mistreated girl found the dog to be a trustworthy friend and for the first time in therapy sessions began to share stories of her trauma and neglect;

One of the dogs held the heretofore unobtainable interest of a young boy with a short attention span, allowing progress in treatment;

A young girl with oppositional issues showed turn-taking behaviors revolving around the dog that she had not shown before in any setting.

The dogs were adaptable to a variety of pediatric clients and challenges, helping children learn to express themselves, to modify destructive behavior and gain emotional and physical control.

The study, reported in Delta Society�s Interactions magazine, was conducted by Leah Brookner, a child and family therapist at Albertina Kerr Centers, as a part of her work towards a PhD in Social Work and Social Research.

Thank you for your interest in Angel On A Leash and therapy dogs.

Angel On A Leash requires its therapy dog teams be certified and registered. It is important to understand that different facilities have different credential requirements for therapy dogs.

A number of organizations register therapy dogs, including the Delta Society, Good Dog Foundation, Intermountain Therapy Animals, and Therapy Dogs International (TDI). In order to be registered, the dogs must first pass a test demonstrating sound temperament and appropriate behavior.

Basic obedience is the first step toward certification. The Delta Society offers training and evaluation in many cities. Additionally, some dog clubs offer Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training and tests. On the right of this page you will see a list of therapy dog organizations. This list is not comprehensive.

There are many other very good training and certification organizations across the country.Your veterinarian, dog trainer, pet supply store or boarding kennel may be able to help you find additional sources in your area.

General Information
Greer Griffith
Director of Programs
Toll Free: 877.DOG.ANGEL (877.364.2643)
Local: 646.259.3811
Angel On A Leash
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 10036
New York, NY 10036

Angel On A Leash currently has programs at nine facilities across the country.
Find a contact near you.

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Pet Therapy: Recovering With Four-Legged Friends Requires Less Pain Medication

ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2009) — Adults who use pet therapy while recovering from total joint-replacement surgery require 50 percent less pain medication than those who do not. These findings were presented at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology and the First Human Animal Interaction Conference (HAI) in Kansas City, Mo.

"Evidence suggests that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can have a positive effect on a patient's psychosocial, emotional and physical well being," said Julia Havey, RN, study presenter and senior systems analyst, Department of Medical Center Information Systems, Loyola University Health System (LUHS). "These data further support these benefits and build the case for expanding the use of pet therapy in recovery."

Animal lover Havey, and colleague Frances Vlasses, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, began raising puppies to become assistance dogs more than a decade ago through a program called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The non-profit organization provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with physical and developmental disabilities free of charge.

"As nurses, we are committed to improving the quality of life for others," said Vlasses, associate professor & chair of Health Systems Management and Policy, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. "This service experience has provided us with a unique way to combine our love for animals with care for people with special needs.

In addition to the financial obligations that go along with raising a puppy, Havey and Vlasses take the dogs to class and teach them house and public etiquette until they are old enough to enter a formal training program.

"You might see our four-legged friends around Loyola's campus from time to time," said Havey, RN, senior systems analyst, Department of Medical Center Information Systems, LUHS. "Part of our responsibility as volunteers is to acclimate these dogs to people. The Loyola community has so graciously supported this training and the use of service dogs on campus."

When the dogs are approximately 15 months of age, Havey and Vlasses return them to CCI's regional training center for six to nine months where they are trained to be one of four types of assistance dogs.

Service dogs are trained to assist with physical tasks and provide social support to their partners. These dogs learn 40 commands to enhance the independence of people with ailments ranging from spinal cord injuries to multiple sclerosis.

Facility dogs are trained to work with a professional in a visitation, education or health-care setting. They can perform more than 40 commands designed to motivate, rehabilitate or soothe clients with special needs.

Skilled companion dogs are trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. Disabilities served include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism and Down's syndrome. A skilled companion also can serve as a social bridge to people who are not used to relating to a person with disabilities.

Hearing dogs are trained to recognize and alert partners to various sounds, such as a doorbell, alarm clock or smoke alarm. The average service life of each dog is eight years. After that time, the dog retires to live out its golden years as a pet.

Havey and Vlasses believe that animal-assisted therapy will ultimately become a standard of care for healing. The pair will continue to advocate for this therapeutic option through public speaking engagements and philanthropic work.

Therapy dog

Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas.

The concept of a therapy dog is often attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England.

Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a golden retriever.

Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions.

Over the years health care professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits, and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow.

In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.

The concept has widened to include other species, specifically therapy cats, therapy rabbits, and therapy birds..

For more information about the topic Therapy dog, read the full article at, or see the following related articles:

Psychiatric service dog

A Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that helps its handler, who has a mental (psychiatric) disability.

Examples of mental disabilities that sometimes qualify a person for a service dog include, but are not limited to: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Anxiety Disorder, and Schizophrenia..

For more information about the topic Psychiatric service dog, read the full article at, or see the following related articles:

Service dog — A service dog is a type of assistance dog that is specially trained to help people who have disabilities other than visual or hearing impairment. ...  > read more
Gun dog — Gundogs, also called bird dogs, are a category of dog breeds developed to assist hunters to find and retrieve game, usually birds. Gundogs are ...  > read more
 Dog training — In the wild as pack animals, canines have natural instincts that favor training. These instincts are manifested when the dog lives with humans as a ...  > read more
  Obedience training — Obedience training involves training an animal, most often a dog, to obey basic control commands such as sit, down, and heel. There are almost as ...  > read mo













Classification of Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are not service or assistance dogs. Service dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas. In the United States, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance and are not mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act.[2] Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs.

Many organizations provide testing and accreditation for therapy dogs. In the USA, some require that a dog pass the equivalent of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test, and then add further requirements specific to the environments in which the dogs will be working. In other places, the certification is by other organizations such as St John Ambulance, the Alpha Society, Inc., Tampa, Fl., Delta Society, Bellevue, Wa, TDInc, Cheyenne, WY and TDI, Inc., Silver Spring, WA. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises, can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably, are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving, get along well with children and with the elderly, and so on.

Pet Therapy is a more inclusive terminology regarding the benefits from having a "therapy dog", or other "therapy animals" such as cats and rabbits.

In the UK an organisation "Pets as Therapy" provides visiting dogs and cats to institutions/establishments where pets are otherwise not available.

[edit] References

  1. ^ SOURCE: "When One Volunteer Makes All the Difference," 11/5/85 Woman’s Day, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1-212-767-6000
  2. ^ Information Resource on Assistance Animals for the Disabled

The organizations do not "certify" therapy dogs; they are simply therapy dog registrars.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links