Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows of the unconditional love and acceptance pets bring. The Pet Therapy Program at the Humane Society of Greater Miami brings the unique and healing human/animal bond to residents and patients of healthcare facilities, rehabilitation centers, children’s hospitals and senior citizen homes across Miami. It is well documented that interaction with animals can significantly improve humans’ physical and emotional health. Put as simply as possible, pets make people feel good!
Regular visits by volunteers and their dogs or cats create strong, powerful relationships with people who need it most. Certified animals shower residents and patients with unconditional love, creating happy, exciting interactions between pets and people and are instrumental in the healing process. Many look forward to seeing the volunteers and their four-legged companions and they talk about them for days before and after the visits. Pet assisted therapy programs have been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease both stress and anxiety levels and promote social interaction.
The Humane Society of Greater Miami’s Pet Therapy volunteers have been visiting different facilities in Greater Miami since the late 1980’s. The success of this program is attributed to dedicated volunteers who donate their time to visit with the residents of care facilities, hoping to bring a smile to someone’s face with the help of something that we all cherish – the companionship of animals.
How do I become a Pet Therapy volunteer?
To qualify for the program you must first be a Humane Society of Greater Miami volunteer. Orientations are held the first Saturday of every month at the Soffer and Fine Adoption Center, 16101 West Dixie Highwy, North Miami Beach (305-696-0800). You must also be willing to use your own pet or a friend’s or family member’s pet with which you feel comfortable handling. The second step is to get your animal(s) certified through the Canine Good Citizen test, which can be scheduled at your convenience through the Canine Education Department at Petco (14601 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami Beach). Once your pet has passed the evaluation, and gets the CGC certificate, you will choose from a list of facilities which you would like to visit based on location, schedule and type of facility.
We are currently looking to bring new volunteers and their pets into the program. For more information, please call 305-749-1820.