Dog paw and human hand.

Therapy Dog FAQs

does st. john ambulance train or provide therapy dogs for volunteer handlers to work with?

No, volunteer handles must train and provide their own dogs to be part of the program. We evaluate you and your dog to act as a therapy dog team. The training we recommend is basic obedience training and good socialization. Many pet stores and other places offer such training. There isn't a specific program or course we endorse.

How old do you have to be to volunteer for this program?

To be considered for the Therapy Dog program, volunteer handlers must be 18 years of age or older. Youth between the ages of 16-18 may join the program, but must be supervised by an adult therapy dog handler while volunteering.

Will I be able to take my dog to work with me for therapeutic visits?

No, as this is a volunteer program, you will not be able to visit as a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Team while being paid by an employer due to a conflict of interest with our liability insurance.

What is the difference between a Service Dog (e.g., seeing-eye dog, PTSD...) and a Therapy Dog?

Service dogs are highly trained for a specific person’s needs. They are not allowed to be touched or petted while working, and are permitted in public facilities (malls, grocery stores, airplanes etc.) A Therapy Dog is shared by a group of people, providing love and affection through touch. They are permitted to visit areas that are approved both by the SJA Program Coordinator and the Facility.

Although they would likely make a great contribution to the program, Service Dogs are not permitted to be a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog. Having two very different jobs can be very confusing for the dog (i.e., a job that encourages petting, versus one in which it is prohibited).

Is titer testing accepted in lieu of vaccinations?

At this time, titer testing is not accepted in lieu of the triennial vaccination policy.

Once my dog goes through the evaluation process, can my partner, son/daughter, friend etc. take them in for visits from time to time?

Since dogs can behave differently with different people, each handler-dog team is evaluated as a unit. Any one dog can have more than one handler, but each handler must go through the application and evaluation process individually with each dog.

Can I visit with children and people with intellectual disabilities?

There is a specific needs evaluation that must occur in order to be placed in a facility with children or individuals with intellectual disabilities. Teams must visit with adults for a period of time before they are eligible for this evaluation. Please contact the Community Services Department for more information.

I work in a facility that could really use Therapy Dog Visits, how do we get started?

Please contact the Community Services Department for a Facility Application Package.

I’m not sure if I have the time for something like this, should I apply to give it a try?

St. John Ambulance staff and Facility staff will do their best to work with your availability and schedule. It is important to know that you will be able to commit to regular visits (weekly/bi-weekly) if you are applying to the program. It is important that we are able to ensure that once a team starts visiting, the clients will have more visits to look forward to.