What is KPETS?
KPETS volunteer teams promote well-being by sharing the power of human-animal interactions serving our local communities. Services are provided free of charge. KPETS coordinates the work of these highly motivated and committed volunteers in providing thousands of pet therapy hours a year in South Central PA and Northern MD. Back To Top
What is the difference between a therapy dog, a service dog and an emotional support dog?
KPETS registers therapy dogs not service dogs or emotional support dogs (ESA). Therapy dogs are our own pets. When registered, they provide therapy for others. KPETS’ volunteers visit only where invited. We have no legal rights to public access.
Service dogs are specially trained and then placed with a person to recognize medical conditions and perform tasks for that person only. Service dogs may not be petted while working as they need to remain focused on that person.
An emotional support dog provides therapeutic support to a patient with a disabling mental illness. ESAs are not trained to perform tasks or recognize particular signs or symptoms but are distinguished by the close, emotional, and supportive bond between the animal and that person. Back To Top
Can my service dog be a therapy dog?
KPETS prefers not to register working service dogs as therapy dogs. For some animals, acting as both a service animal and a therapy animal at the same time can be very stressful. It takes a steady and talented dog to do both jobs, and only a unique animal can serve both purposes. As your animal’s most important advocate, you are in the best position to determine if your service animal will thrive working as both a service dog and a therapy dog. Back To Top
What are the requirements for a pet to become registered?
All pets must be at least one year old to begin the registration process. The pet must be in good health and have resided with you for at least six months. Back To Top
What characteristics are found in a good therapy pet?
Your pet should have a friendly disposition and a personality that is suitable for interacting with all types of people. Pets should permit rough and clumsy petting and be okay with restraining hugs. Pets should not shy away from or be frightened by wheelchairs, walkers, or staggering individuals. They should be able to comfortably handle loud noises, such as PA systems, radios or loud yelling. We’ll test this during the group evaluation. They may respond to the noise, but it should not negatively affect them. Pets should know basic obedience and look to you for leadership.
The suitability of a dog depends more on the individual dog rather than a particular breed. Back To Top
What kind of commitment is required?
There is no mandatory requirement for the amount of time you volunteer. Some of our volunteers want a weekly or monthly commitment, others like to do one-time events as they arise.
When first introducing your pet to therapy work, we advise short visits until your pet is comfortable with this new adventure. You may want to limit the number of activities you pursue when first starting. Each dog is different and will progress at a different pace. Back To Top
Can two people become registered with the same therapy pet?
Yes, many couples enjoy volunteering together. Each person must go through the entire process to become a registered team. Both people may attend the same Orientation session, however it is recommended that each handler test at a separate evaluation session. Many pets get stressed by switching between handlers and/or by the additional time needed to run through each exercise with each handler. Back To Top
Is there a minimum age for handlers?
Younger volunteers under 18 may be eligible to become a Junior Registered Handler. The parent must be a registered KPETS Team with the same pet. When the Junior Handler is visiting for KPETS, the parent or guardian must be present and available as backup to step in should an unexpected situation arise. The parent may not have another pet with them. They need to focus totally on the junior team to ensure safety for all.
To start the process potential Junior Handlers will need two letters of recommendation from a professional trainer, teacher, coach, or other KPETS volunteer. These will need to be forwarded to KPETS for pre-approval prior to registering for a Group Evaluation.
The junior handler along with the parent must complete the entire registration process: attend Orientation, complete a successful Group Evaluation and pass two Visit Evaluation visits. Back To Top
I am interested in getting my dog registered as a therapy dog to work at my own workplace.
KPETS insurance is only applicable to KPETS registered teams when acting on behalf of KPETS in a volunteer role. The insurance is not applicable if the pet is used in a Handler’s job setting while they are “punched in”. If this is something you’re interested in, we advise that you obtain an added rider to your homeowner’s insurance to cover this. You can also check with your employer, who may provide insurance while you and your pet are working. We’ve found that employers want to see that the pet qualifies as a registered therapy pet to insure he has passed the criteria for working in a therapeutic capacity. Be sure all involved understand that KPETS does not provide the insurance while someone is working at their job. Back To Top
Can you train my pet to become a therapy pet?
We do not provide therapy training for your pet, however our KPETS Leaders will guide and advise you as part of the screening/evaluation process. You may work with a local positive reinforcement trainer in your community to practice obedience skills and socialization to prepare your pet for the evaluation process. However this is not mandatory. Back To Top
Do you have therapy pets available for adoption?
We do not have, nor are we aware of any organization that specifically has therapy pets for adoption. All of our therapy animals are our volunteers’ pets. When looking for a pet that you could use for therapy, look for one that is calm, confident, enjoys interacting with people, gets along well with other pets, and is not timid or aggressive. Back To Top
In what geographical area do your dogs make visits?
Our volunteers visit in Lancaster, York and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania as well as Northern Maryland. Back To Top
My elderly parent lives with me and would love to have a visit from a therapy dog. Could you come to my home for a visit?
Our organization primarily visits hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, but we also participate in school reading programs and “de-stressing” visits to local universities. Usually we do not visit individuals in a residential setting without the request and presence of a professional third party.
We do this for the safety of both our volunteers and those we serve. Also, due to the large number of requests for therapy dog visits,we have to choose to make visits where the greatest number of people can benefit from the visit. This limits us to facility settings, as described above. Back To Top
I don’t have a pet but would like to offer my services to your organization. Do you have any volunteer opportunities?
Thank you for offering your services, but we do not often have opportunities for volunteers other than our therapy dog/handler teams. Back To Top
My pet was registered as a therapy pet through another organization. Must we still go through your evaluation process to become a therapy team?
Yes, you will need to go through the 4-Step Process to become familiar with our policies and procedures. Back To Top
My facility would like to have one or more therapy dogs visit our residents. When can they begin?
We appreciate your interest in having therapy dogs visit your facility and we will try our best to accommodate your request. After we receive a request, we post it for our registered volunteers. If volunteers are interested and available to visit your facility, they will contact you directly to make the arrangements. Please be aware that we get many more requests than we have available volunteers. Although your request may not be filled immediately, we are always getting new teams registered. Back To Top