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FAQ

What is Canine Assisted Therapy?

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in August 2009 to provide canine companionship for those in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice organizations. With 130-plus therapy teams, C.A.T.’s dedicated and passionate volunteers now serve more than 100 facilities annually, primarily throughout South Florida. To learn more read about the types of facilities and populations served, read Performing Canine Magic!

Can any dog become a therapy dog?

Therapy dogs and their handlers must be certified by C.A.T. before volunteering in one of the more than 150 C.A.T.-approved facilities. Before applying for the evaluation and certification process, a potential therapy dog must be one year of age and have passed the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test. To see a complete list of the requirements, read Basic Certification.

What does it cost to become a certified therapy dog/team with C.A.T.?

  • Full Membership – $95 annual membership fee includes one dog, insurance coverage as a volunteer under the C.A.T. blanket liability policy, one C.A.T. t-shirt and one dog bandana.
  • Supporting Membership (second handler working with the same dog) – $50 annual membership fee includes insurance coverage as a volunteer under the C.A.T. general liability insurance, one C.A.T. t-shirt and one dog bandana.
  • Additional Dogs – $25 annual fee per additional dog.

Are there any specific breeds that make good therapy dogs?

At C.A.T. we welcome all breeds, sizes, and ages of dogs (at least one year old), as long as the dog/handler (the therapy team) can pass the rigorous evaluation and certification process. Interested handlers must first attend an orientation to learn more about the requirements to become a certified therapy team, i.e., to determine if it’s “right for you and your dog!” To learn more read How to Become a Certified C.A.T. Volunteer Team.

Can you train my pet dog to be a therapy dog?

After attending the orientation, we invite you to complete one of our assessments to determine if you and your dog have the right temperament and skills to become an effective therapy team. We’ve recently started CGC Test and/or C.A.T.-certification preparation classes if your dog has already passed the CGC Test. You’re also welcome to attend other training classes in the community and have your dog evaluated by an official AKC-CGC Evaluator. We believe very strongly in positive dog training methods and ask you to consider your community trainer carefully. To learn more read Training & Certifications.

How long will it take for my dog to become a therapy dog?

If your dog has already passed the CGC Test, it may take only a few weeks to become certified by C.A.T., assuming you and your dog exhibit the right temperament and skills to become a therapy team. After passing the rigorous C.A.T. evaluation and certification process, you will be mentored in the field by one of our trained mentors to ensure you’re ready to work on your own.If your dog has not passed the CGC Test, you may need to take several obedience classes prior to registering for the test, which could take several months. Even if you haven’t yet passed the test, you are welcome to attend our orientation to learn more about becoming a C.A.T.-certified therapy team and to determine if we have training available that will meet your needs.

Can my dog and I work with children?

Yes, but only if you and your dog have obtained an Advanced Certification and have been approved by C.A.T. to work with children. To learn more read Advanced Certification.

How long do therapy dogs work in the field?

This is completely dependent on the specific therapy team and there are no known national averages. We have C.A.T.-certified therapy dogs that have been volunteering in the community since our founding in 2009. As your dog ages, he/she may begin to exhibit signs he is no longer enjoying therapy work, at which time C.A.T. staff will help you determine if your dog is ready to retire.

I’m a facility administrator and would like to schedule therapy dogs to visit my facility. What do I do?

Either call C.A.T. at 954-990-5175 or complete the Contact Us Form and one of our staff/volunteers will follow up with you to discuss your needs. Each facility must complete an application and site visit prior to approval.

If I don’t have a dog, can I still volunteer with C.A.T.?

Yes, if you have a special skill or interest and would like to discuss volunteer opportunities, please complete the Contact Us Form and one of our staff/volunteers will follow up with you to discuss our current needs. Whatever your interest or passion, we have an opportunity for you! To learn more read Volunteer.

How is Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., funded?

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, C.A.T. is funded by generous contributions from individuals; gifts from businesses and community organizations; grants from corporations and foundations; and ongoing fundraising activities such as special events and online activities. To learn more about opportunities for supporting C.A.T., read Give.

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies"
- Gene Hill

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