Welcome Canine-Assisted Therapy Volunteer Registrants
By this time, you probably have browsed our entire website and have a pretty good idea what Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. (Therapaws) is all about. If you haven't, we encourage you to go back over all the pages and links so you become totally familiar with canine-assisted therapy and what it involves. If you seriously believe this is a volunteer commitment you wish to make with your dog then we are pleased to invite you to begin the process of becoming a canine-assisted therapy volunteer.
Requirements for Becoming a Canine-Assisted Therapy Volunteer
The very first thing you are required to do before becoming a canine-assisted therapy volunteer is to register with an umbrella organization called Therapy Dogs, Inc. (TDInc.), a national registry that provides liability insurance for handler/dog teams. To become registered with TDInc., there is a test and three observations - conducted by TDInc.-approved Testers/Observers (T/Os) - that you and your dog are expected to pass. For your convenience, Therapaws of Michigan has five TDInc.-approved T/Os within its membership.
Once you have filled out the Therapaws questionnaire (ie: answer every question and fill in every blank, even if it's with an X), you will be expected to attend an orientation meeting before you are tested.
Confused? yes, you applied to Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. We are a local Washtenaw County based organization. All of our members are also members of Therapy Dogs, Incorporated, a national therapy dog organization which provides an insurance policy for your dog and excellent guidelines for your volunteer work.
You will be tested by a Therapy Dogs, Incorporated Tester/Observer. Several members of Therapaws are also Tester/observers for TherapyDogs, Inc.
These meetings will be scheduled on a Saturday the month before we test you (March, June, September and November or December). This orientation is for Therapy Dogs, Incorporated.It is necessary for you to understand what is involved in the testing process and what is expected of you and your dog as a therapy dog team volunteer.
After the orientation meeting, you will be able to sign up for a testing date/time and ask any questions that you may have. You will also be shadowing an experienced therapy dog team during this orientation.
Once you have received your TDInc. membership card, you have two options, which you can indicate on the questionnaire below.
OPTION ONE: You are free to become an independent TDInc. pet therapy team and make your own arrangements with any facility of your choice anywhere in the country. There are usually guidelines at such facilities that you and your dog will be expected to follow. You also will have to renew your membership in TDInc. each year, along with the annual fee of $30.
OPTION TWO: In addition to TDInc. membership, you also may choose to become a member of Therapaws of Michigan, our local canine-assisted therapy program, currently serving Ann Arbor and surrounding communities. Many registrants choose to add Therapaws membership because of the reputation we have with local facilities who come to us when they need suitable pet therapy teams.
Therapaws membership also provides a network of more than 70 teams that can be contacted for special-event functions in addition to regular assignments. At certain locations like the University of Michigan Health System, therapy teams are required to be Therapaws members in addition to membership in TDInc. You must fill out a Hold Harmless Agreement, send a one-time non-refundable $20 registration fee, and a copy of your current TDInc. card to Therapaws of Michigan: c/o Valerie Wells, 347 Edison Ave, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197.
OPTION ONE: If you wish only to be a TDInc. member.
OPTION TWO: If you wish also to become a Therapaws of Michigan member, the following three steps (4-5-6) must be added to the steps in Option One.
Step 1: Fill in and submit Volunteer Questionnaire
NOTE: TDInc. registrants are tested four times a year - in January, April, July, and October. You will be tested in the month closest to the date when your paperwork is received. To be tested, dogs must be at least one year of age and handlers at least 16 years old. Be aware that the screening/testing process can take up to six months.
Please answer all questions on this online form and click on Submit to send to us. All fields are required. EVERY LINE MUST HAVE AN ANSWER. "X" IS FINE IF YOU FEEL IT DOES NOT APPLY.
Step 2: A Therapy Dogs, Inc. Tester/Observer will contact you to schedule your appointments.
It is important that you show up at the scheduled time and place for your TDInc. test and subsequent observations because the process from beginning to end must be completed within six months. You are required to bring to your first appointment copies of the following TDInc. materials, all of which can be downloaded from their website at www.TherapyDogs.com: Application form, Release of Claims form, and the TDInc. test, which also will help you know what to expect.
We strongly suggest that you further browse the TDInc. website, where you will find all the rules, regulations, guidelines, tips, and helpful hints, for you and your dog, for making pet therapy visits.
Step 3: You will be tested, observed, and, if passed, registered by TDInc.
Therapy Dogs Inc. (TDInc.) insures each registered dog with a five million dollar liability policy for $30 per year.
IMPORTANT: Holding membership in TDInc., and the insurance coverage that comes with it, is necessary before you can make visits on behalf of TDInc. or Therapaws of Michigan.
NOTE: If you also wish to become a Therapaws of Michigan member, the following three steps (4, 5, 6) must be added to the process, after you have received your TDInc. membership card.
Step 4: Fill in and return the Hold-Harmless Agreement, check, and TDInc. card.
Print out the Hold-Harmless Agreement (595 KB PDF file), read carefully, then sign, date, and mail to Therapaws at the address below, along with a one-time, non-refundable $20 Therapaws of Michigan registration fee, paid by check to Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. We must have a copy of this agreement on file with your original signature. Also include a copy of your TDInc. membership card.
Therapaws of Michigan, Inc.
c/o Valerie Wells
345 Edison Ave
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
A. Shadow a Therapaws Team
One of our Therapaws members will contact you, either by phone or email, to set up an appointment for you (without your dog) to shadow a Therapaws team on a pet therapy visit, or...
B. Schedule a Screening
If you come to Therapaws with a TDInc. membership already in place, you will not have to be tested by TDInc. again, but we do require a screening by a Therapaws member. The reason for this is so Therapaws can get to know you and your pet partner to help place you in an appropriate facility.
Step 6: Your facility assignment
Once all of your paperwork is complete, a Therapaws member will assign you to one of our facilities, accompany you and your dog on your first visit, and answer any questions you may have.
Please understand that Therapaws will make every effort to place you at a facility of your preference, but assignments are made where the need is greatest. If you wish to volunteer at one of the hospitals, you also will be required to go through their individual volunteer orientations before you can make hospital visits.
Please click on Therapy Dog Visits: Facilities Served by Therapaws and/or Therapaws to R.E.A.D.: Facilities Served by Therapaws for a list of facilities in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities that are visited by Therapaws teams.
Additional Volunteer Opportunities
Therapaws to R.E.A.D. Program
If you are interested in the Therapaws to R.E.A.D. program, you first must be registered with Therapy Dogs Inc. (TDInc.) and with Therapaws of Michigan, Inc. (Therapaws).
We encourage you to do therapy work with your dog first before you commit to additional work in the Therapaws to R.E.A.D. program.
Once you have done this, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your recent Therapaws history and your wish to explore the Therapaws to R.E.A.D. program.
Other Time & Talent Services Needed
Print out this Time & Talent form (570 KB PDF file), circle the areas you wish to become involved with - in addition to your regular therapy dog visits - fill in the information, and mail to:
Therapaws of Michigan, Inc.
C/O Valerie Wells
345 Edison Ave
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197