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WHATAnimal Assisted Activity/Therapy teams visit seniors in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Alzheimer's Care Units, Hospitals, Veterans Hospitals, Hospices, Rehabilitation Centers and many other facilities.
WHYTo stimulate senior residents who have been unresponsive. To relieve boredom for senior residents who are unable to leave their beds or rooms to participate in other nursing home activities.
WHEREIntermountain Therapy Animals.
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Program Description

"People who are depressed or lonely or have a lot of pain, you bring a dog in and they forget. They forget about the pain, they forget about the heartache, and they go on and they have that one moment that gives them hope."

source: Intermountain Therapy Animals Video

"Participating in animal-assisted therapy with your companion animal is a volunteer service with great potential satisfaction and reward, but it is not a casual undertaking and not suitable for everyone. It is a serious responsibility that involves health, safety, and extremes of emotion and behavior. Volunteers need to be able to deal appropriately with patient/clients during the most difficult and challenging times in their lives."

The “Intermountain Therapy Animals” Program believes in “Pets Helping People.”

When volunteer pet handlers and dogs visit seniors in nursing homes, seniors are able to pet and hold animals, engage with them, communicate with them and use the senses of touch, smell, sound, sight, to their best ability.  

Nursing homes and other nursing care environments are busy facilities with many distractions, all kinds of sudden noise, wheelchairs, walkers, medical carts, medical equipment and a variety of smells. Therapy dogs and other animals must be able to adapt to new places and situations.

How to know if your dog or animal is appropriate for Animal Assisted Activities or Animal Assisted Therapy?

The “Intermountain Therapy Animals” Program provides the following checklist:

• Animal demonstrates behavior that is reliable, controllable, predictable, and inspires confidence in the person he or she is interacting with
• Animal actively solicits interactions with people and is accepting and forgiving of differences in people’s reactions and behavior
• Animal demonstrates relaxed body posture, moments of sustained eye contact (dependent upon species and breed), and relaxed facial expressions
• Animal is more people-oriented than animal-oriented
• Animal likes being petted, touched and hugged
• Animal is able to remain calm with people doing such things as speaking loudly, clumsy movements and clapping
• When approached from behind, the animal may show curiosity, but does not startle, growl, jump up, bark, eliminate, act shy or resentful
• The animal can walk on various surfaces reasonably comfortably, including carpet, concrete or asphalt, tile, linoleum, rubber matting and wooden floors
• Animal is outgoing, friendly and confident in new settings

In order to pass the test to become a therapy dog or assisted activity dog with the “Intermountain Therapy Animals” Program dogs must be:

-Accepting of a friendly stranger and be willing to sit politely for petting
-Clean, healthy and well groomed
-Walk through a crowd on a loose leash with visual and noise distractions and not panic, becoming aggressive, frightened, or too submissive
-Obedient - sit, down, stay-in-place, and come when called
-Able to meet another dog
-Able to handle touching by strangers and hugs

Licensed “Intermountain Therapy Animals” Program evaluators complete the screening of dog handlers and dog teams. Dogs are tested for skills and aptitudes. If this portion of the application process is passed then training to be a therapy dog team is provided. Finally, volunteers must pass a screening before being registered Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy teams.

The “Intermountain Therapy Animals” Program makes presentations on assisted animal therapy, animal assisted therapy, and dog safety and responsible pet care to students, community organizations, professional groups and conferences.





Therapy Dogs International Nursing Home Program - Across the USA and areas in Canada. Provides free visits of dogs to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, hospices and other facilities to provide regular animal assisted therapy, an interactive nursing home activity and to give companionship to elderly.

Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program - Program widely available across the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, and several other countries.
Trains pet owners and pets on how to visit nursing homes, hospice, hospitals, physical therapy centers, long-term care facilities and other facilities to provide animal assisted activities.

Therapy Dogs Inc. Program - Program available across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories. Provides registration, support, and insurance for those involved in volunteer animal assisted activities.

Pets on Wheels Program - Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Providing regular animal assisted therapy through pet and dog visits to nursing homes and assisted living by trained volunteers and approved pets.

FriendshipWorks PetPals Program - Boston Massachusetts, USA. Arranges for pets (cats and dogs) and their owners to make friendly visits providing animal assisted therapy to elderly in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

People Animals Love Program - Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. USA.
Certified pet handler volunteers take their pets to visit elderly in nursing homes providing animal assisted therapy.

New Orleans Visiting Pet Program - New Orleans, USA. Animal assisted activity program where volunteer pet handlers and their pets visit nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and other facilities.

Austin Dog Alliance Pet Therapy Training Program - Austin,Texas. Provides training to pet owners and their dogs to visit local nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other facilities to provide animal assisted activities.

Therapy Pet Pals of Texas Program - Texas, USA. Places trained volunteer pet handlers and pets in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, State and County facilities and other special needs environments.

Terminally Ill & Their Pets
Pets and Seniors Companionship
Service Dogs for Elderly

Find out more about the "Intermountain Therapy Animals" Program

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