PAWS Therapy Dog Volunteers

What To Expect

PAWS Therapy Dogs teams (handler and dog) must complete the following:
  • OC Animal Allies orientation (without your dog) – Learn about OC Animal Allies and our work as a dedicated Orange County animal welfare organization and our programs, including PAWS
  • Dog Observation & Training – Attend a two-hour session where our team gets to meet and work with you and your dog, preparing you for the assessment process
  • Assessment Testing – You and your dog will be thoroughly evaluated using a 25-point test
  • Handling and Program Class – Teams that successfully pass the assessment testing will attend a class to learn program rules, policies and handling techniques as well as protocol to help you prepare for visits.
  • Written Test – Written testing on program policy and protocol
  • Background Investigation screening – All volunteers will be carefully screened through a background investigation
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Required – All volunteers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

After completing the above, teams will enter a four-month probation period while working at a facility for adults.  Upon completion, teams will move forward with a two-month probation at a facility for children. The entire process takes approximately eight to ten months to complete. When the probation is completed, volunteer/pet teams will become eligible to participate in OC Animal Allies’ PAWS, Kindness Kids and Canine Literacy programs, as well as dozens of special event opportunities throughout the year. We look forward to meeting you and working with your dog!

Program and Volunteer Requirements:

Volunteers must be at least eighteen years of age, and the owner of a program compatible family pet dog. Dogs must be able to interact with and work in close proximity to other dogs and breeds of all sizes. OC Animal Allies PAWS program does not certify nor allow dogs to attend individual visits. Teams always visit in groups at designated facility locations and times.  Volunteers must be able to commit to a minimum of one visit per month (each is approximately 90 minutes) as well as participate in at least two special event visits or OC Animal Allies community events.  You must be willing to comply with OC Animal Allies /PAWS policies and protocols, and have a friendly demeanor. All volunteers must maintain active OC Animal Allies membership, due annually in January to remain in good standing.

Dog Requirements:

Dogs must be one year of age or older.  The owner must have owned the dog (having had the dog living with you) for at least six months and the dog must be spayed/neutered, fully housebroken and proficient in obedience.  The dog must be in good health, able to walk on its own and must be a family pet.  Service Dogs, ESA or ESD (emotional support animals) or comfort dogs are not eligible to become a Therapy Dog.  The dog must be able to work in stressful and often crowded environments and all dogs must be able to work with and interact with other dogs.  Dogs must have a desire to visit and seek attention from people (no signs of fear, shyness, resentment or aggression).  Dogs may not bark, jump up on people, paw at them or cause other disruptions.  Dog treats/toys or other bait items including clickers are prohibited while on a visit as they can become a distraction for other dogs.  All dogs must be current on vaccinations for Rabies and DHPP (Distemper).  We reserve the right to request certificate of health from a licensed veterinarian.

Support OC Animal Allies

We are a local independent organization and do not receive any government funding.  We are dependent on the financial support from people like you.

A Big Thank You