Therapeutic Paws of Canada is a non-profit organization of volunteers providing animal resources for human needs (physical, mental, educational, motivational, socialization) through regular visits to hospitals, residences, schools, etc. Spencer Place, a volunteer with TPOC, answered my questions about the organization. As a college student, Place had the chance to take part in a TPOC “Paws Room” during exam week. Spending time with the therapy dogs put a smile on his face and gave him a chance to forget about the pressures of school.
ALLISON: When did Therapeutic Paws of Canada begin?
SPENCER: In 2002, Therapeutic Paws of Canada launched a volunteer-based therapy pet visitation program for senior’s facilities such as retirement homes, nursing homes, Alzheimer day away centres, hospitals, and wherever there is a need. TPOC has over 700 volunteers working in communities across Canada.
ALLISON: What animals can become therapy pets? How are they trained?
SPENCER: Dogs and cats cane become therapy pets. We do not provide training. Our teams consist of a volunteer with their own pet dog or cat. In our experience, therapy pet animals are usually born with the required temperament though some basic obedience skills are required.
ALLISON: How does a pet owner get their pet certified/registered with Therapeutic Paws of Canada?
SPENCER: Pets can become Certified by going through an evaluation with one of our team leaders. If your dog or cat has good manners and a friendly and outgoing temperament he or she will most likely do well. To schedule an evaluation, please contact a Team Leader in your area.
ALLISON: How do you stay in touch with/reach out to prospective teams across the country?
SPENCER: TPOC utilizes email, conference calls, annual meetings and private Social Media groups to keep in touch with all TPOC Volunteers. Prospective and current.
ALLISON: What are the most typical places therapy pets are taken? The most unusual places?
SPENCER: All TPOC certified therapy pets visit seniors home, long-term care facilities, Alzheimer day away centres, hospitals, College/Universities, hospices, High Schools. Elementary schools, and local events across Canada. We do not do in-home, private visitations.
One of the cats featured on TPOC website is Molly, a three-year-old domestic short-haired female orange tabby. Molly was the only surviving member of an abandoned litter. From an early age Molly had a very unique personality…very calm and loving, and she has always enjoyed any and all attention. She would always quite happily settle in her carrier for car rides.
Molly has visited senior retirement centers, where she enjoys the constant cuddles and attention. TPOC writes, “It is heartwarming to see the smiling faces and happiness she brings to the residents.” Molly also passed her Paws to Read® testing, which enables her to work weekly with children. TPOC writes, “In typical Molly style, she is enjoying the pets and attention from the children and they enjoy reading to her.”