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What is the CAMH Pet Therapy Program?

We recently wrote about the benefits for both you and your dog to train to be a therapy pet to help those people in various care facilities who would benefit from a visit of a friendly caring person and their very special four legged friend.

One of Toronto’s largest organizations, CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) offers a pet therapy program where people can go for a training session with a professional dog trainer. The trainer is partnered with other persons who screen, test and evaluate dogs as potential pet therapy dogs.

Training takes part in two steps. People bring their dogs for a detailed training session where they are taught basic obedience commands and have a hands on class to practice with their pets. They are guided through all steps of the training and leave with detailed written information. The pet owners then have approximately four weeks to work and practice the commands at home.

The second step is when the owners and their pets return to CAMH where all routines are reviewed and practiced with the trainer. All dogs are then screened and evaluated by the trainer and the other co-ordinators of CAMH.

If it is found that the handler and their pet are a good fit and pass the test, they will be interviewed, trained and placed in the program. This is entirely a volunteer program, and if accepted, the volunteer must commit themselves to go with their pet for regular weekly visits for a minimum period of one year. Your pet will receive a purple bandana to identify him/her as a therapy dog and will be placed in a program by a co-ordinator.

Here (from right to left) are… Trevor De Cristofaro, Beverley Bardell, Wendy Maeots of Integrated K9 and Bonnie Kukula of the Delta Society at CAMH in Toronto on Sunday, Dec. 6th.We were evaluating and testing dogs for therapy work as part of CAMH’s Pet Therapy Program.

You will be pleased to hear that all 10 dogs in the group passed and will now be interviewed, trained and placed.

Any clients at the organization that now have or have had dogs in the past, or those who will never be able to own their own dog will benefit from these weekly visits while they are receiving treatment.

So if you have the time and a friendly four legged friend and would like to bring a lot of joy into someone’s life, why not check out the Pet Therapy Program at CAMH. They will be happy to hear from you and you and your dog will reap a wealth of happiness.

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