Potential Volunteers

 

How does PAT operate?
Many owners really love their pets and get so much pleasure from this relationship that they want to share the joy and love of their animal companions with others. PAT’s role is to facilitate this process. We assess you and your animal companion as a team and match you with an organization where all will benefit. We support you to ensure that you feel confident on visits, and provide you with ongoing support.
 
What sort of organisation will I visit?
That will depend on what organisations we have available. We try to place volunteers in an organisation suitable for both them and their pets. If a volunteer wants to visit an organisation not yet affiliated to Pets as Therapy, we are happy to follow up with the organisation concerned.
 
Do volunteers need any specific skills and abilities?
Volunteers need to enjoy meeting and talking to people. They should be observant and sensitive to the needs of others. Being empathic, compassionate and understanding also helps, however, these should be balanced with the ability to be objective. Volunteers generally have a special relationship with their pet, and this motivates them to share this relationship with others. Friendliness, honesty and openness are important and they need to understand the policies and rules of Pets as Therapy, as well as the organisation they are visiting. The ability to maintain confidentiality is vital.
 
How much time is required?
The impact of PAT depends on the frequency of contact. Weekly visits would be ideal but many of us lead busy lives and can only manage fortnightly or monthly visits. Some people walk through organizations pending a few minutes with many people, while others spend more time with fewer people, enabling their pets to develop close relationships with their “clients”. We don’t want to exhaust or stress the pets, so in total, an hour is usually enough time for a visit.
 
What else do I need to take into account before I apply to PAT?
It is important to think through the following factors:
 
  • How often can you visit?
  • How far are you prepared to travel?
  • Do you have your own transport?
  • Perhaps you can only visit in the evening or at weekends.
 
Volunteers are encouraged to assist at promotional and social events, and offer help as and when needed.
 
How will I know that my pet is suitable for therapy work?
While many dogs provide love and companionship in the home, not all dogs have the temperament and social skills to be a therapy dog. Dogs of any breed, size or age may be eligible. The therapy dog candidate must be friendly, confident, socially motivated, well socialised with people of all shapes and sizes, accept and be comfortable with being handled by strangers and be under reliable control of the handler.  Pets must be healthy, we need proof that their inoculations are up to date and that there is a parasite (flea and tick) control programme in place.
 
Think about the comfort and welfare of both yourself and your pet, when considering your options. Being a PAT volunteer is not always easy, but it is a very rewarding and worthwhile service to the community, which brings its own rewards and satisfaction to the volunteer.