Process to Become a Volunteer
Step 1: Sign up for Orientation
Step 2: Attend Orientation session
Step 3: After Orientation, sign up for the Optional Practice Test OR
Step 4: Sign up for the Volunteer Team Evaluation
Step 5: Complete Shadow Visit
Step 6: Successfully complete First Visit
QUALIFICATIONS FOR PETS FOR LIFE VOLUNTEER TEAMS
Pet therapy requires animals who are calm, gentle, and willing to give their love all the people they meet. Therapy pets must not be easily frightened at unfamiliar noises or situations and need to be reliably well-behaved.
Dogs: Dogs must be at least a year old and the volunteer must have owned the dog for at least six months. Dogs must wear a flat buckle collar, humane collar, Martingale collar, or harness. Volunteers must use a nylon or leather leash. We require our dogs to have the following basic obedience skills: controlled walk on a leash, sit, stay, come, down, and leave it. Our dogs are expected to have a clean appearance, display calm around other animals and friendly strangers, and be unbothered by wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches. Pet Therapy pets MUST enjoy interacting with and being handled by strangers.
Cats: Cats must be at least six months old. Cats must wear a harness. All cats must be on a nylon or leather leash but may be carried by the volunteer. Cats need to be calm around dogs and other animals and have a clean appearance. Cats should be calm around friendly strangers and allow a person to hold them and pet them. Cats should also be calm around moving objects such as wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches.
Rabbits and Other Pets: Rabbits must wear a harness, but may be carried by the volunteer. They must also be on a nylon or leather leash. Rabbits need to be calm around other animals and have a clean appearance. Rabbits need to be calm around friendly strangers and allow a person to hold them and pet them. They should be unbothered by moving objects such as wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches.
All volunteers must be at least 16 years of age. Volunteers need to be available to do regular monthly visits. We are looking for humans who have friendly personalities and are interested in other people. The handlers need to be relaxed and confident and able to control their pet. During visits, the handlers are always an advocate for their pet.
The therapy evaluation is about 20 minutes long and all teams will be re-evaluated every two years. Any aggression displayed to other animals or humans will end the evaluation.
Pet Therapy test for dogs:
Pet Therapy test for cats and rabbits: These animals are evaluated based on their temperament and willingness to be held and pet by strangers.
The Education Pavilion, Room 101, inside KC Pet Project located in the Swope Park area, 7077 Elmwood Ave, Kansas City, MO 64132.
The first step in becoming a Pets for Life volunteer is to attend one of our Orientation sessions. We have an online Orientation via Zoom scheduled each month. Since our Orientations are conducted online, all the furry family members of your family can attend.
During the Orientation you will receive an overview of the Pets for Life organization, find out about the many opportunities to volunteer with your pet, and learn the process required to become a volunteer.
The Pre-Test workshop is an opportunity for you and your pet to review and practice the skills that will be assessed on the actual Volunteer Team Evaluation. The class is usually offered one time each month and will last about an hour. The Pre-Test Class is limited to about 5 individuals with their pets. Additional workshops will be added based on demand. There is no charge for the Pre-Test Class, but you must be registered to attend. Check our calendar for workshop dates.
The workshops are only offered to dogs. Cats or rabbits will proceed directly to the Volunteer Team Evaluation step.
When you believe you and your pet have what it takes to become a pet therapy team, sign up for the Volunteer Team Evaluation. The process is as follows:
After online registration, we will send you the Pets for Life Volunteer Team Evaluation Application and accompanying paperwork, which needs to be completed and returned to our office. The fee of $20.00 needs to be received in the office prior to the scheduled evaluation.
Volunteers wishing to certify more than one pet will be charged $10.00 for each additional pet. If more than one member of the same family wish to be certified with the same pet, each additional family member will be charged $10.00.
Cats and rabbits may be carried, but should be on a harness or collar with an appropriate leash.
***Dogs who have earned the Canine Good Citizen certification within the past year do not have to complete this step, instead, will be evaluated during the First Visit. Volunteers need to contact the office to request the application package and to schedule a shadow visit and first visit.
All volunteers complete a shadow visit with an experienced therapy team. This is the handler training portion of becoming a volunteer so your pet will be left at home. You will learn visiting techniques and safe handling practices. Pets for Life will coordinate this visit with one of our current volunteers.
Now it is time for the volunteer team's first visit at their chosen facility, accompanied by the facility's Activities Director and Pets for Life's Executive Director or other designated representative. We always have a list of facilities requesting volunteers, so we can find the right fit each volunteer team. This is the final evaluation of the potential volunteer team's suitability for therapy work.
Upon successful completion of the "official" first visit, the team becomes a Certified Pets for Life Volunteer Team. Volunteers need to send separate photos of themselves and of their pet to the Pets For Life office so identification badges can be produced.