How to Join

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog volunteers are responsible people who have a dog that they love and ultimately wish to share that love and dog with other people.

Volunteer Requirements

We are looking for: Individuals who wish to provide health care-oriented volunteer service within their community using their dog to assist.

Volunteer Age Group: Volunteer must be 18 years of age or older. Dogs must be one year of age or older.

Training Pre-requisites:

Volunteers:
•Must complete an application process
•Should be physically and mentally capable of performing the activities that are reasonable for the type of service they are to provide
•Must complete a Criminal Records Check with a Vulnerable Sector Search

Dogs:
•Must be one year of age or older
•Accepting of a friendly stranger
•Sitting calmly for petting
•Walking on a loose leash
•Walking through a crowd (including wheelchairs)
•Sitting on command/staying in place
•React well to another dog or to distractions (noise, jogger, etc)

Time Requirement: Volunteers and their dogs are generally expected to provide regular weekly or bi-weekly visits in order to develop a bond with their designated clients.

Upcoming Evaluation Dates:

Halifax Regional Municipality - Evaluations are held on a monthly basis in the Metro area.

All other areas of NS & PEI - Please contact us for an evaluation date in your area. Evaluations are held based on the number of interested applicants in a particular area.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Will I be able to take my dog to work with me for therapeutic visits? As this is a volunteer program, you will not be able to visit as a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog while being paid by an employer due to a conflict of interest with our liability insurance.

2) What is the difference between a Service Dog (e.g., seeing-eye dog, PTSD…) and a Therapy Dog? Service dogs are highly trained for a specific person’s needs. They are not allowed to be touched or pet while working, and are permitted in public facilities (malls, grocery stores, airplanes etc.) A Therapy Dog is shared by a group of people, providing love and affection through touch. They are permitted to visit areas that are approved both by the Program Coordinator, and the Facility. Although they would likely make a great contribution to the program, Service Dogs are not permitted to also be a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog. Having two very different jobs can be very confusing for the dog (i.e., a job that encourages petting, versus one in which it is prohibited).

3) Can I have more than one dog in the program? Yes, you can have multiple dogs in the program, but you are only permitted to visit with one dog at a time.

4) Once my dog goes through the evaluation process, can my partner, son/daughter, friend etc. take them in for visits from time to time? Since dogs can behave differently with different people, each handler-dog team is evaluated as an individual team. Any one dog can have more than one handler, but each handler must go through the evaluation process individually with each dog.

5) Can I visit with children and people with intellectual disabilities? There is a specific needs evaluation that must occur in order to be placed in a facility for children or people with intellectual disabilities. Teams must visit with adults for a period of time before they are eligible for this evaluation. Please contact the Program Coordinator for more information.

6) I work in a facility that could really use Therapy Dog Visits, how do we get started? Please contact the Program Coordinator for a Facility Application Package.

7) I’m not sure if I have the time for something like this, should I apply to give it a try? The Program Coordinator and Facility staff will do their best to work with your availability and schedule. It is important to know that you will be able to commit to regular visits (weekly/bi-weekly) if you are applying to the program. It is important that we are able to ensure once a team starts visiting that the residents/patients will have more visits to look forward to.

Applications must be completed prior to attending an evaluation session. Please e-mail robert.howlett@ns.sja.ca if you are interested in finding out more information about the Therapy Dog Program.

**Please note, if you are looking for information on the Program for a Province other than Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, please visit our website, www.sja.ca.

 

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