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.
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.
of facilities does the Suffolk County SPCA P.E.T. program
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.
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.
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
my family member, who lives in a senior center, receive a
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.