Volunteers with loving, calm dogs needed for Pet Pals therapy dog program

Published 4:44 pm Monday, January 11, 2010

Volunteers with exceptionally loving, calm dogs are needed for a Polk County group called Pet Pals that goes around to local nursing homes to visit with the elderly.

Volunteers must not only have a calm well suited dog but also have the time and desire to spend at least one hour a month volunteering.

In order to continue to serve a large number of facilities in the area, Pet Pals organizers constantly need volunteers. Volunteers and their dogs must be willing to go through training in order to become certified to offer pet therapy. Volunteers must attend three free training sessions and then apply to the national governing body for insurance.

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Pet therapy volunteers and their dogs brighten up the days for people they visit, provide a lovely subject of conversation, and can rekindle old memories of previously owned pets. They can make a difference in the quality of life for those they visit

Polk County Pet Pals is affiliated with the national organization Therapy Dogs, Inc. The goal of Therapy Dogs, Inc. is to provide registration, support, and insurance for members who are involved in volunteer animal assisted activities.

These activities include, but are not limited to, visits to hospitals, special needs centers, schools, and nursing homes. The objective is to form a network of caring individuals who are willing to share their special animals in order to bring happiness and cheer to people, young and old alike.

Currently Polk County Pet pals visit at White Oak, Laurel Hurst, Luminous, Magnolia Manor, Camp Care & Tryon Estates. If you are interested in learning more about the Therapy Dogs organization you can visit www.therapydogs.com

Volunteers are required to attend three training sessions. The first training session will preferably be one of the first three offered because that is when organizers will be going over the introduction and the initial training video will be shown.

During the first training session volunteers will also be asked to commit to when and where they plan to be visiting over the year. Volunteers are required to make eight visits over the course of the year. They can be at any location but must be documented. If you are unable to commit to visiting on a regular basis you will not be allowed to continue through the training.

You can read more about the Pet Pals program at www.polkcountypetpals.blogspot.com and at www.therapydogs.com

All of the training classes will last 30 to 45 minutes. There is only room in the training class for 10 more teams. You must call or e-mail in order to get registered since room is limited.

Volunteers will need to pick up paperwork at the Hospice Office behind St. Lukes Hospital. The paperwork must be filled out and vet records up to date before attending training. Registration will end on January 30.

Contact Katie Malone at 864-415-5804 or via e-mail tricoach@windstream.net for more information.Polk County Pet Pals therapy dog training dates:

Sat., Feb. 6&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 3 p.m., Group 2 4 p.m. – Laurel Hurst, Columbus

Sun., Feb. 7&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 3 p.m., Group 2 4 p.m. – Laurel Hurst, Columbus

Tues., Feb. 16&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 & 2 3 p.m. – Laurel Hurst, Columbus

Wed., Feb. 24&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 & 2 3 p.m. – Tryon Estates, Columbus

Sun., Feb. 28&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 & 2 3 p.m. – White Oak, Tryon

Tue., Mar. 2&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 & 2 3 p.m. – White Oak, Tryon

Sat., Mar. 6&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Group 1 & 2 3 p.m. – White Oak, Tryon