Therapaws in General


Therapaws of Michigan: FAQ photo

How does Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. (Therapaws) work?

Individual owner-dog teams visit patients and residents in hospitals, extended care and assisted living facilities, rehabilitation and psychiatric centers, and other care centers for regularly scheduled visits. Emphasis is placed on one-on-one interaction with the dog who becomes a bridge for communication, motivation, encouragement, and empathy. Therapaws to READ teams make visits to schools and libraries.

How does Therapaws rate?

Therapaws is a winner of the Community Service Award of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association for Outstanding Animal-Facilitated Therapy, the recipient of dozens of certificates of excellence and appreciation, and the subject of several newspaper and magazine articles.

More important, we have been invited to, and currently visit, more than 40 settings in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities. These include various floors, departments, and units within the University of Michigan Health System, including C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System as well as dozens of extended care and assisted living facilities, rehabilitation and psychiatric centers, and schools and libraries.

What is Therapaws to READ?

Learn more about Therapaws to READ

Do you take other animals such as cats, rabbits, llamas, or ponies to visit people?

Therapaws is only for dogs because we are registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), a national organization that provides training, support, and insurance for therapy dogs that are tested according to its rigorous guidelines and standards. They do not cover other animals.

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Receiving Therapaws Services


Therapaws of Michigan photo

How do I know if the Therapaws Program would fit with my organization or facility?

If you believe that canine-assisted therapy can make a difference to people in your care by having a positive effect on their motivation, treatment results, and morale, Therapaws can help you.

Customized service is a hallmark of the Therapaws program so every effort is made to accommodate special needs and requests. Currently, Therapaws is only making visits in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities.

How can I obtain the services of Therapaws for my organization or facility?

Request Our Therapy Dog Services:
Therapy Dog Visits
Therapaws to READ
Facilities Served by Therapaws:
Therapy Dog Visits
Therapaws to READ

Do you make visits to schools and other organizations for special events?

Yes. Therapaws teams make visits to schools and to community and service organizations for special events and to make special presentations and demonstration visits, mostly in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities.

Do you visit shut-ins?

Therapaws teams may make visits to shut-ins, but it must be through an accredited agency such as Hospice of Michigan.

Home visits can be problematic because at least two people must be available for the visit and because of potential allergies of the shut-in and other pets in the house.

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Volunteering for Therapaws


Who qualifies as a Therapaws team?

If you have an obedient, socialized dog who loves people and is at least one year old; if you are at least 12 years old; if you enjoy listening as well as talking; if you can commit to volunteering in an institutional environment, and if you and your canine companion like to engage in a unique activity, this program may be for you and your dog.

If I have two therapy dogs, can I make visits with both of them at one time?

No. Therapaws handlers are allowed to make visits with only one dog at a time.

Can I volunteer if I do not have a dog?

We are always in need of administrative help to keep our group running smoothly. If you wish to put your talents to good use, please follow the instructions in the Other Time & Talent Services Needed section of this web site.

Is there a minimum age requirement to become a Therapaws team member?

You must be at least 12 years old to become a Therapaws team member. But keep in mind that most of our assignments are during the day from Monday to Friday.

How old does my dog have to be to become a Therapaws team member?

All dogs must be at least one year old to become a Therapaws team member.

Are there specific days of the week that Therapaws teams make their visits?

Most facilities require one of their staff members to be present when we make our visits. Therefore, most of our visits are made Monday through Friday, during regular business hours, to accommodate their schedules. Some long-term care facilities are open to having Therapaws teams make visits on weekends, but that must be worked out between you and the facility. Veterans Hospital also is flexible with days and hours for making pet therapy visits, which can be worked out with the Therapaws facility coordinator for the hospital.

How do I become a Therapaws to READ member?

Visit our Volunteer page and read through the Additional Volunteer Opportunities: Therapaws to READ Program section.

All Therapaws to READ teams must first be registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ADT).

You will go through an additional screening and training to determine if you and your dog are suitable candidates for the Therapaws to READ program.

What if my dog and I become a Therapaws team and we have to move to another city or county in Michigan?

As long as you are registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ADT), you and your dog may set up your own visitation schedule with a facility near you.

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