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Suffolk County SPCA Pet Encounter Therapy

The Suffolk County SPCA Pet Encounter Therapy (P.E.T.) program brings the unconditional love and tactile benefits of animals to people in facilities such as abused children's homes, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and senior centers. Volunteers take dogs to visit facilities, with many organizations on our waiting list. Studies document that holding and caressing an animal provides benefits such as relaxation, lower blood pressure, improved long- and short-term memory, and sensory stimuli.

Pets often bring out the best in people. They can calm hyperactive children or stimulate movement and interaction in those with physical disabilities. During our pet visits, we've seen movement from unresponsive patients or heard words spoken for the first time - all to the amazement of fellow residents and staff members. Find out more about Suffolk County SPCA Pet Encounter Therapy. Call: 631-382-SPCA or write Suffolk County SPCA, PO Box 6100, Hauppauge, NY 11788.

Frequently Asked Questions about  Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. Program

What are the benefits of animal-assisted therapy?

The program provides opportunities for special-needs people to experience the benefits of human-animal interaction. Along with being enjoyable for the people we visit, the interactions can also provide stress reduction, relaxation, lowered blood pressure, increased attention span, increased memory recall, and improved self esteem. Benefits for the Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. dogs include a work schedule of one hour each day with the next day off, the love of hundreds of people and the best care and housing available. Benefits for our volunteers and staff are the satisfaction of truly touching the lives of the people we visit.

What animals do you use in the Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. program, and where do they come from?

We have dogs working with volunteers in our program. Our volunteers use their own dogs who have taken the Canine Good Citizen Training Program. Some of the animals come from backgrounds of neglect or abandonment and are rehabilitated into the program.

What type of facilities does the Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. program visit?

We visit any facility that has a client population that can benefit from pet visits. Currently, we travel to convalescent centers, Alzheimer's units, emergency children's shelters, adolescent behavior centers, hospice clients, and hospital sub-acute units.

How is Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T program funded?

We depend on private donations, like the rest of the Suffolk County SPCA, to fund our program. No revenue is generated by Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. because we offer our services free of charge. Currently, we have a long waiting list of facilities to visit and need additional funding before we can expand our service. Donors or corporate sponsors can sponsor a facility for the year, a dog in the program, or support the program for an entire year, or more.


What type of dog makes a good therapy dog?

Any type of dog whether it is purebred or mixed. The important thing is that the dog loves people and is socialized and trained well enough to enjoy and behave in new and strange surroundings.

How can I volunteer in the Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T program?

If you would like to be a P.E.T. volunteer, call the P.E.T. program at (631) 382-SPCA. You will start the process by attending a Suffolk County SPCA orientation. After the orientation you will be interviewed by our volunteer coordinator to make sure this is the right match for you and the program. Your dog will then be screened by your veterinarian to ensure that he/she feels that your dog is appropriate for therapy work, and that all vaccinations are current. Once we have that paperwork in hand you will attend an 8 week training session with your dog followed by a test. The test will expose your dog to situations he will encounter on visits and make sure your dog is capable of handling these interactions. Once your dog is through this process, he will receive his badge and be welcomed into the program. You and your dog will then accompany the P.E.T. manager on your first visit. We ask our volunteers to work at least one three-hour shift each week with a 6-month commitment.

How can my family member, who lives in a senior center, receive a visit?

If you feel your family member and his/her fellow residents would benefit from our program, please have the activity director of that facility call the Suffolk County SPCA for further details, (631) 382-SPCA.



Suffolk County Offices
North County Complex
725 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
Bldg. 16
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788-0099

(631) 382-7722 Phone

(631) 382-4042 Fax

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