Pets as Therapy is a charity founded in 1983 and largely depends on the kindness of volunteers across the country. Pets As Therapy (PAT) Volunteer Teams visit prisons, day care centers, hospices, schools, hospitals and residential homes so that people can interact with pets. Since the inception of the organisation, 25,000 dogs and 104 cats have gone through the program to provide therapeutic visits to places all over the UK. A staggering 9000 establishments are visited each year, with 6.75 million bedside visits every week!
The therapeutic visits of the PAT volunteers provides a number of benefits to the communities that they are located in. The visits have shown to improve the lives of people suffering debilitating mental and physical health conditions and illnesses such as Strokes, Autism, and Dementia. Simply stroking and engaging with a dog can assist people to lower their blood pressure and overcome anxiety.
In 2010, PAT volunteers began a programme in Hampshire where kids would read to dogs. The dogs served as great reading companions and the improvement in literacy skills led to the programme spreading across the country. You can read about the great work Denise and Millie perform through this article in The Independent. Denise also mentioned that the interaction between the children and Millie helps them overcome their fear of dogs and puts them at ease.
All dogs seeking to become PAT volunteers go through an assessment process. If a PAT assessor is not available in your area, then your veterinarian will be contacted by the organisation. Denise shared with us the general requirements that she utilises to access a dog:
- Your dog has to be at least 9 months old
- You must have owned the dog for at least 6 months
- Your dog walks on a loose lead wearing a collar
- Your dog is not worried by sudden noises
- You dog is always under control when on a lead
- Your dog is currently fit and well, with all their vaccinations and worming treatments up to date.
- Dogs of all breeds and sizes are accepted
- The minimum age of the volunteer is 18.
Dogs such as Millie (shown below) have gone on to make an impact in the lives of thousands of people. From assisting the elderly combat loneliness, to bringing a smile to vulnerable people, a day in the life of Millie is never a boring one.
If you are interested in becoming a PAT volunteer please visit their website at petsastherapy.org
There are many other ways you can help Pets as Therapy:
- Donate via their website petsastherapy.org/donate
- Donate at justgiving.com/petsastherapy
- Sponsor a volunteer
A big thank you to Denise, Millie and Pets as Therapy for this session.