How can my pet become a therapy pet with PATS?

Here is what you need to do in order for your pet to become a  therapy pet with PATS:


PATS exists to provide animal therapy visits in a variety of settings in the community. Animal Therapy provides a supportive, recreational, and motivational interaction between a pet animal and an individual. Most therapy animals are much loved pets with the temperament and inclination to enjoy interactions with a wide variety of individuals, and to tolerate environments outside of their usual comfort zone. Therapy visits capitalize on the animal’s natural behaviors and while the pets are expected to be responsive to their handlers commands no special training is required other than basic obedience and good leash manners.

The pets who participate in PATS are required to pass a behavioral test administered by a veterinarian unknown to the animal prior to the test. This test is designed to assess the animal’s suitability for the program. The test does NOT confer any special status on the animal. 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.

In contrast, Service/Assistance Pets have been specifically trained to provide a one on one service to an individual with specific need. The pets are typically highly trained and live with the individual requiring the special service. These pets are granted special status.


Pets volunteering with PATS many not be fed a diet the includes raw meat, either fresh, frozen or thawed. This is a requirement of VIHA infection control and reflects concern regarding the increased potential for pathogens such as salmonella to be transmitted by animals fed a diet the includes raw meat.

PATS is also required to ensure that animals in our program are appropriately immunized. It is your responsibility to pay for the vaccines and to keep them up to date. All PATS pets must be immunized according to your veterinarin’s recommendations and must be on an effective parasite contorl regime. Proof of immunization is required before a pet will be accepted into the PATS program. Pets must be in good health to participate in PATS activities and annual veterinary check ups are required with updated vaccination certificates submitted to PATS.

Basic behavioural testing is provided by local veterinarians as a pro-bono service to PATS. The test must be performed by a vet unfamiliar with your pet and PATS will authorize the appointment once the intake form has been reviewed.

The final orientation is provided as a group session with both pets and owners present. This allows us to mimic group visits and evaluate the pets’ ability to cope with group interactions.We recognize that some animals may not do well in groups but can be valuable volunteers in one on one settings; you will have the opprtunity to explor that option and if necessary alternate orientation arrangements can be made.

Not all pets are suited for therapy volunteer work, some animals may pass the behaviour test but still be uncomfortable in unusal settings, or dislike excessive handling. It isn’t uncommon for the pet to take a little time to become accustomed to their new activity but it is important that you are aware of your pet’s stress indicators and intervene as necessary Both members of the team should enjoy the experience!

Once your pet has passed the behaviour test we will call you to set up an orientation. The orientation will take about an hour and at this time we will talk with you about visiting etiquette, safety procedures and confidentiality and also ask you what facilities you would like to visit and tell you about upcoming visits. At the orientation you will receive A Training Manual, an ID Badge, a PATS Bandana and a Pet Tag.

PATS membership for the first year is $30. Please bring cash or a cheque to the orientation to pay for your first year of membership.

Each subsequent year costs $20 to renew your membership. If you have more than one pet add $5 for each (ie. for two dogs the first year is $35 and subsequent years are $25).

Please be aware that if you are volunteering with children, in particular with the Paws and Tales Literacy program, 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.