Frequently Asked Questions

PATS pets come in all shapes and sizes (just like their owners!) and while most of the pet volunteers are dogs we accept many different types of animals. Our therapy program has included birds, cats, goats, a miniature horse, a llama, rabbits and a snake.
On completion of your PATS orientation, we will guide you to a veterinarian for an evaluation of your pet. There is no charge for the evaluation, but it will be with a veterinarian that is not familiar with your pet.
Participating pets must be in good health. We ask that your pet have an annual check-up with your veterinarian to maintain good pet health and to ward off any potential problems regarding teeth, ears etc. With your pet’s annual check up your veterinarian can also send us updates on shots at the same time.
All pets should be at least six months old and have their first Rabies shot before they can join. Basic obedience training is an asset as the pet has to respond to your commands but it is not necessary for joining. Also keep in mind that although many older pets do very well as volunteers some may tire easily with all the attention given to them.
Hospital Infection Control has informed us that any animals on a Raw Meat Diet (ie. BARF etc) are not allowed at the facilities therefore we cannot accept your pet at this time.
PATS volunteers visit all types of facilities including hospitals, retirement facilities, group homes, private homes, schools, preschools, daycares and Public Libraries. PATS visits over a 150 different facilities.
You can visit a facility as an individual or with a group of PATS volunteers. There are many group visits planned throughout the year.
Visit! Mostly listen and talk. The focus is really on your pet and the client your pet is visiting so give them your full attention.  Sometimes if you go to a daycare or preschool you may be asked to speak a bit about your pet.

If you are volunteering with children in the Paws and Tales Literacy program, or plan on volunteering at a VIHA facility, a criminal record check is required.

It is your responsibility to ensure you have the proper documentation in place for the facilities you will be visiting. Below are some links to criminal record contacts in Victoria and the Greater Victoria area.

Interaction with a Therapy Pet provides motivational, educational, recreational and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life. PATS pets visit hospitals, hospice care, retirement homes, care homes, school de-stress events, public libraries, etc.

Therapy pets DO NOT share the public access rights granted to service pets and may be denied admittance to public places. See service pet definition below.

Animal Assisted Therapy is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of a treatment process. The treatment is directed and/or delivered by an education, health or human service professional with specialized expertise within the scope of practice of his/her profession.

An example of animal assisted therapy is the PATS Paws and Tales Program, which is offered to schools and libraries. More information can be found on the Paws and Tales Literacy Program page of this website.

PATS does not train or provide either Service Pets or Facility Therapy Pets.

Service Pets are trained to provide services directly to their disabled handlers, while therapy pets, supervised by their handlers, provide services to others (e.g., the residents of an assisted living facility).

Facility Therapy Pets normally reside at the facility in which they are employed. These animals don’t have one owner/handler but rather work alongside facility staff every day.

Except at the facilities they visit, PATS pets do not have any privileges beyond those granted to any other pet in public places, on public transportation or in private buildings such as apartment blocks where the keeping of pets is restricted or prohibited.

If you would like your pet accredited as a service or comfort animal, please see this link.