Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pet Assisted Therapy?

P.A.T. is goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Goals can by physical, educational, motivational or mental health oriented. In addition to goals, P.A.T. programs measure the individual’s progress.

How do I become a Pet Assisted Therapy Team?

Click here to see the Therapy Dogs Incorporated test/evaluation.  Therapy Dogs Inc Test & Evaluation  If you are confident that your animal is ready for testing contact evaluator Lori Coleman at lcoleman@clayhumane.org  


How do I know if my animal is suited for therapy work?

You and your pet should have an interest in people and enjoy visiting. Your pet should be healthy, have at least a basic level of training and be reliable, even in crowded or unexpected situations. Some essentials:

- Animal likes being petted, touched and hugged
- Animal demonstrates reliable, controllable, predictable behavior
- Animal actively solicits interactions with people
- Animal is able to remain calm in disruptive settings
- Animal is outgoing, friendly and confident in new settings

If your animal is unpredictable, doesn’t like being around people, or is aggressive to people or other animals it would not be suitable for therapy work.

Does my animal have to have all its vaccinations?

P.P.I. registration requires that each animal must be up to date with rabies vaccination and any other state required vaccine. Individual facilities may have their own requirements.

Does the animal have to be spayed I neutered?

All animals participating in pet therapy with P.P.I. must be spayed or neutered.

Does the age of the animal matter?

Yes it does, an animal must be at least one year of age to be observed & tested to begin providing therapy. Animals younger than 18 months of age must be enrolled in an obedience or Pet Therapy course and complete Canine Good Citizen training program.

What kind of animals can provide Pet Assisted Therapy?

Almost any animal can provide Pet Assisted Therapy. With the correct training, animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, some birds, and even miniature ponies are successfully used as therapy animals.

What is the difference between service, therapy, companion, and “social” animals?

Service animals are legally defined by the American’s with Disabilities Act (1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers. Federal laws protect the rights of individual’s with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Federal law does not legally define therapy animals, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have “no pets” policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.

Companion animal is not legally defined, but is accepted as another term for pet. “Social/therapy” animals likewise have no legal definition. They often are animals that did not complete service animal or service dog training due to health, disposition, trainability, or other factors, and are made available as pets for people who have disabilities. These animals might or might not meet the definition of service animals.

What is R.E.A.D.?

The intent of the R.E.A.D. program (Reading Education Assistance Dog) is to have children read to the therapy animals. Research with therapy animals indicates that children with low self-esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than another person and they are inclined to forget about their limitations. The premise of the R.E.A.D. program is that children will find reading to an animal less intimidating and a special time for them that is helpful and fun and will become a positive environment in which learning is facilitated.

How do I become a R.E.A.D. team?

You must first be a certified P.A.T. member of P.P.I. (see how to become a P.A.T. team). P.P.I. will then walk you through the steps to become a R.E.A.D. team. We will help you with simple commands to teach your animal to participate with the children and provide you with the in-home training materials & DVD to become a R.E.A.D. handler.

Does PPI require classroom instruction prior to Pet Assisted Therapy team Registration?

No, classroom instruction is not required. P.P.I. recommends Therapy Dog classes to help those who want to learn more about pet therapy or who want assistance learning the required skills.  If you feel you need Therapy Dog classes, contact  Lori Coleman with Therapy Dogs Incorporated at lcoleman@clayhumane.org

Can I get paid for providing PAT or R.E.A.D. services?

No, P.P.I. is a volunteer organization. Members donate their time to bring happiness to others. Any expenses you incur providing therapy, including mileage and extra expenses for grooming, may be tax deductible. P.P.I. reimburses teams for R.E.A.D. materials as funds are received from donations.

How much does PPI charge for visits?

P.P.I. members volunteer their time and do not charge for any Pet Therapy or R.E.A.D. visits.  There are Membership Fees on an annual basis.  See Membership Info.

Can I become a Corporate Sponsor?

Yes! The volunteers of Pawsitive Pets bring smiles and confidence to many in metro Jacksonville daily. We depend on donations from individuals, foundations and companies to fund our R.E.A.D. materials for the children, our volunteer training materials, this website, our program administrative support; all of which will enable us to recruit and train needed volunteer teams every year. Click here to see how you can become a sponsor and help us continue to serve your community!

Can I sponsor a R.E.A.D. child?

Yes! $50 sponsors a child to complete R.E.A.D.! Your donation will help fund bookmarks, stickers, books, plush toys, framed participation certificates, and pawtographed note cards for the child. Your donation will help us continue to serve our children!

Can I sponsor a PAT team?

Yes! $100 sponsors a Pet Therapy Team! Your donation will help with training, evaluating, testing and insuring a new team to visit facilities for those in need of a little love on a leash!

Can I help with FUNdraisers?

Yes! We are always in need of organizers for much needed FUNdraisers to help with our expenses for P.A.T. and R.E.A.D. programs and more! Contact Us to help with a FUNdraiser.

What does it mean that PPI is a 501(c)(3) organization?

501(c)(3) refers to the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code that allows a corporation to operate as a nonprofit and accept contributions from the public without paying taxes. This designation also allows you to count your contribution as a tax deduction.

Can I get involved with PPI without a pet?

YES-YES-YES!, P.P.I. has a Volunteer Committee of Membership and there are many opportunities to get involved. Volunteer Committee members can attend quarterly meetings, assist at any of the many events P.P.I. attends each year, assist a P.A.T. or R.E.A.D. team and assist with administrative duties. Contact Us to join our Volunteer Committee.

Why should my pet and I be evaluated and certified?

Organizations like P.P.I. set standards for P.A.T. and help ensure that visiting teams have the skills and aptitude to make a good team. P.P.I. recognizes Therapy Dogs Incorporated for P.A.T. certification and registration.  Once registered with T.D.Inc., you and your pet are covered by a liability insurance policy while volunteering.  Many facilities consider the P.P.I. requirements as the gold standard and have adopted them as their own. Pet Therapy Teams only need to submit their P.A.T. ID card in order to visit.

Can I take my animal to an extended care facility without being registered?

You can, but that is not advisable. You and your animal should be evaluated by a trained evaluator. Registration also eliminates the risk of not having the proper insurance.