Pet Therapy Opportunities in Massachusetts
Therapy dogs provide companionship and support for the disabled, elderly, and young. These organizations provide programs for registration of a dog/handler team, as well as volunteer opportunities.
** Please note, the groups below are provided as a resource to pet owners interested in getting involved in pet assisted therapy programs, the MSPCA is not affiliated with any of the below organizations.
Group Information and Links
Caring Canines Visiting Therapy Dogs, Inc.
This group, which is based in the greater Boston area, serves special needs classes in schools, provides visits to residential homes for children at-risk, homeless shelters and hospitals, and provides emotional support and comfort to victims, family members and disaster workers in crisis situations. Dogs must be evaluated by this organization before they can participate.
Children’s Hospital Boston - Pawprints Dog Visitation Program
Pawprints is the Children's Hospital Boston therapy dog visitation program, which provides hospitalized children and their families with distraction and companionship. Dogs and their handlers must be screened by the hospital, and must also possess a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate or therapy dog registration.
Companion Animal Program
This program seeks to provide companionship for the older and disabled population. Dogs are evaluated by this organization on the basis of obedience, temperament, and reaction to unfamiliar surroundings.
Dog B.O.N.E.S. (Dogs Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support)
This organization organizes therapy dog visits to hospitals, nursing facilities, schools, rehabilitation centers, and other locations focused on the elderly, the disabled, or the young. A workshop is provided with an overview of disabilities, exposure to medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and compressors, and an opportunity for dogs to refine and practice their obedience skills for use in a medical setting. At the end of the program, dogs and their handlers must pass the registration/observation test.
Massachusetts Pet Partners
This organization, registered affiliate of Delta Society Pet Partners, provides visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities. Registration requires volunteer training through workshops and screening of animal/handler teams with the Pet Partners Aptitude and Skills Tests to evaluate obedience and temperament.
This organization runs The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program, which improves children's reading and communication skills by allowing them to read to therapy animals that visit schools and libraries.
This program provides animal companionship to elderly residents of long-term care facilities. Pets must be screened for temperament, obedience, and reactions to potential stressors. Owners and pets are trained to safely interact with the nursing home residents.
Pets and People, Inc.
This pet-assisted therapy program is based in Eastern Massachusetts, and provides companionship for residents of nursing homes, assisted living homes, special needs facilities, half-way houses, and some children's facilities and hospitals. An instructional seminar and dog screening are required.
Therapy Dogs International, Inc.
This organization tests and registers dogs and handlers for the purpose of visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that accommodate therapy dogs, but does not provide volunteer opportunities itself. Dogs are evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator, and must pass a temperament evaluation which includes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC). The dog's behavior around people service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.) will also be evaluated.