Apply for a Visit
Thank you for your interest in a one-time, “pup-up” visit or recurring visits with our volunteer, registered, PAL therapy dog-handler teams. We look forward to collaborating with you to harness the power of the human-animal bond to bring the joys, comforts, and therapeutic effects of animal-assisted interventions to your participants and help you achieve your visit’s unique goals. The guidelines below will help you think about, plan, and prepare for your special visit(s) with PAL therapy teams.
Please carefully read the information below before submitting your application for a visit. Thank you!
“The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors considered essential to the health and wellbeing of both. This bond is beneficial to the mental, physical, and social health of people, and animals.” American Veterinary Medical Association
“Animal-assisted interventions should be governed by basic standards, be regularly monitored, and be staffed by appropriately trained personnel. Animal-assisted interventions should adhere to best practice and have goals (in the areas of health, wellbeing or education) with measurable outcomes. The health and welfare of the humans and animals involved must be ensured.” American Veterinary Medical Association
How to plan a successful therapy dog visit
Carefully tailor the animal-assisted activity to your goal(s) and the needs of the participants.
Is your goal to support reading skills, assist with social-emotional skills, relieve stress, teach about animal welfare, promote empathy, or support those with special needs, diagnoses, or disabilities? Design a session that is appropriate to the needs you have identified and one with the potential to produce beneficial results.
Consider the welfare needs of the animals and eliminate unnecessary contact and/or stress.
A core tenet of PAL is honoring the mutuality of the human-animal bond. Therapy dogs should enjoy and not merely tolerate visits and interactions. It helps to think about how the world looks, smells, sounds, and feels from a dog’s point of view and how the dog might be experiencing the intervention. Loud noises, tight spaces, crowding, and leaning over a dog can cause stress and discomfort for them. Proactively design a visit to avoid and minimize stress, and react promptly to a dog showing signs of stress. Thank you for partnering with us to ensure the safety, welfare, and enjoyment of dogs and human participants alike. Read more.
Prepare participants with appropriate safety and welfare training in advance of dog-assisted interventions.
Explain the reason for ground rules such as staying calm, quiet, and showing respect and consideration for the dogs. Participants should not rush up to or crowd the dogs. Participants should not hug or kiss the dogs. See Lili Chin’s poster “How Not to Greet a Dog” (and “the correct way”) and the “Pat Pet Pause” poster from thefamilydog.com.
Safeguard participants’ welfare.
Monitor participants' interactions with the dogs, especially if your visit is with children or vulnerable adults. In advance of the session, obtain valid consent from participants and caregivers (for children and those lacking capacity to consent by themselves) and gather information on allergies and phobias via a brief questionnaire to participants/caregivers. Practice high standards of personal and environmental hygiene. Have participants wash their hands or use hand-sanitizer before and after petting the dogs. Clean the floor of all debris and items such as backpacks, food, and other potential hazards.
Follow PAL policies and observe best practices in animal assisted interventions.
Plan for the visit to take place in a quiet space free of distracting sounds and food and spacious enough that PAL teams can maintain at least a 6-foot distance from each other. Keep participant-to-dog ratios low, and allow no more than 2-3 participants to interact with a dog at a time. Most PAL visits are a maximum of one hour in length to ensure the dogs do not become fatigued. Before planning your visit, we invite you to explore the resources on our website, including the IAHAIO Definitions for Animal Assisted Intervention and Guidelines for Wellness of Animals Involved in AAI.
Host Site Facilitator Information and Responsibilities
When submitting your application, you will be asked to acknowledge that you understand and agree to PAL Host Site Facilitator Information and Responsibilities. Please review them below before submitting your application.
Submit Your Application for Review
For Existing Host Sites Only
If your facility or site currently partners with us and receives visits, please review the Host Site Facilitator Information and Responsibilities document above and then register your current Host Site Facilitator or new Host Site Facilitator by clicking the link below.
What Happens Next?
PAL will review and consider your application and review our current calendar. If we feel your application can move forward, we will determine how many volunteer teams are needed to safely support you. We will then post and circulate details of the visit to our volunteers and request commitments. All proposed visits must be at least 4 weeks from the date of inquiry.
If we have the appropriate number of teams available and committed to supporting your visit, we will let you know. We will then begin a conversation with you to outline your proposed visit and gather any additional details we require. Once it is confirmed, we will add your visit to our calendar and create a sign-up for our volunteers.
Approximately 1 week before your event, we will send an email to the coordinator at your facility (your designated “Host Site Facilitator”), confirm which volunteer teams to expect, and gather any necessary last-minute details.
Cancellations/last-minute changes happen. If weather or other unforeseen factors require that you cancel or change the location of your event, please communicate those changes as quickly as possible to the PAL office.
We will always send an email reply to your application. If you have not received a response within 10 business days, please check your spam folder.
How you can help sustain & expand access to PAL visits
PAL never charges for visits from our friendly therapy dog-handler teams, who spread love, joy, and comfort to tens of thousands of individuals annually. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, PAL relies on the generous donations of community partners and individuals to advance our mission of using the human-animal bond to comfort the lonely, ease the pain of the sick, and enrich people's and animals’ lives.
Since our founding in 1982, PAL has dedicated our limited staff and volunteer resources to supporting children, seniors, individuals coping with grief, loss, or illness, and other vulnerable populations in our communities. We greatly appreciate your financial support so that we can continue to provide therapy dog services to our community members with the greatest need and expand our visits to as many people as possible. We respectfully request donations from companies and organizations that receive workplace or campus wellness visits or stress relief for their staff, clients, and other participants. Suggested donation levels are below. We encourage nonprofits and host sites with smaller budgets to contribute what they can. Even $25 per visiting hour (an annual contribution of $300 for monthly visits from a PAL team) goes a long way to offset the costs of our animal-assisted support program.
You can donate here. Thank you!
Suggested Donations for Workplace/Campus Wellness Visits:
Private company workplace wellness visit: $500-$750
Non-profit workplace wellness visit: $100-$250
Private school/college visit: $250-$500
Government visit: $250-$500
Association visit: $250-$500
Conference visit: $1,500