Joining an established program offers a volunteer guidance, support safety and camaraderie. A lone volunteer with pet, wishing to engage in animal assisted therapy, would have a difficult time trying to gain entry into almost any facility that we serve. The Caring Critters AAT (animal assisted therapy) Program is generally recognized as fitting a facility’s guidelines for legal and medical purposes thus we are able to “contract” with them for regular visits.
What commitment will I be expected to make as a Caring Critter volunteer?
A volunteer is expected to commit to a facility visit team for at least six (6) months. With few exceptions, visits are semi-monthly and last one (1) hour.
All pets of new volunteers must be at least six months old.
What are the dues and fees?
There is a one-time $75.00 fee for the orientation workshop. There are no annual dues.
May I become a member without attending a workshop?
No. Every member must attend a complete workshop and temperament test.
What is the purpose of the workshop?
To familiarize the new volunteer with all facets of our program and to assist them in deciding where they would like to visit.
Is my pet likely to flunk the temperament test?
The majority of pet applicants are entirely suited for therapy work. The few who need help in correcting shortcomings are given suggestions and encouragement by our animal trainers and the opportunity to retest in six (6) months.
No. The limit is one pet per testing session (held twice a year, in the Spring and the Fall). Members are given the opportunity of enrolling others at future testing sessions but may have no more than two (2) active therapy pets at a time.
May I temperament my adorable 12 foot boa constrictor?
No. Caring Critters does not accept reptiles due to the danger of transmitting salmonella.
What types of AAT visits are made?
It depends on the facility visited. Generally there are two types of regular visits:
Social: Primarily practiced at nursing home and psychiatric visits. The purpose is to encourage socialization and conversation, stimulate intellect and memory, provide entertainment and fulfill tactile needs.
Therapeutic: Primarily practiced in rehabilitation programs to attain specific therapeutic goals, under close supervision of health professionals.
Is a volunteer insured on Caring Critter visits?
Yes. Insurance premiums are paid yearly by Caring Critters, Inc.
May my pet and I make individual Caring Critter visits?
No. Visits are made as a team. Participants (pets and volunteers) must enter and exit their facility through the assigned entrance as a team.
May my children accompany me on Caring Critter visits?
No. Visitors must be at least 18 and may only visit with the advanced approval of the team leader and facility. Children under 18 may visit only at specially designated events.
Are there dress codes and equipment requirements?
Members are required to wear the official Caring Critters t-shirt on all visits. An official four (4) foot leash (distributed at the workshop) is required to be used for dogs or any other leashable pet. Carriers and cages are used as needed to affectively control other types of animals. Some facilities do have dress codes. Your team leader will advise you of any specific requirements.
May I take pictures during visits?
No. Volunteers may not take photographs during the course of a visit.
How is the volunteer kept up with current events?
All active volunteers receive our monthly newsletter, the Critter Chronicle. The newsletter provides news about our organization, members, pets, and facilities. Members also receive email alerts, may join our Yahoo and/or FacebookFan Page, and may attend our quarterly meetings.