What is the Pet Assisted Therapy (PAT) Program?
The Pet Assisted Therapy (PAT) program facilitates visitation opportunities between animal/volunteer pairs with children, adults, and seniors in Midcoast Maine by connecting with retirement communities, nursing homes, schools, libraries, health facilities, and other places where people can benefit from the company of animals.
The PAT Mission
Midcoast Humane’s PAT program aims to encourage opportunities for individuals to experience loving bonds with animals and, to that end, creates animal/human teams to volunteer in community spaces where people can benefit from the company of animals. Particular focus is given to those who face barriers to sustaining these relationships due to financial, medical, and environmental restraints. The program provides opportunities for individuals to socialize, communicate, and relax. PAT will also increase community awareness of responsible animal care and demonstrate the health-promoting benefits of human-animal relationships.
Becoming a PAT Team
If you would like to participate in the program with your dog, one of our coordinators will schedule a “meet and greet” to determine if you and your dog are ready to start the process of getting registered as a therapy dog team through Alliance of Therapy Dogs. This is a 30-minute evaluation that takes place at the Midcoast Humane Administrative Building (190 Pleasant Street in Brunswick). After you are approved for visitation, the PAT coordinators will also help you schedule visitation opportunities in our community. You may also participate in the program with a small animal from our shelter. Let our coordinators know if you would prefer to visit with a shelter pet. Interested in becoming a team? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 449-1366.
About the Therapy Animals
Animals enrolled in PAT must have a friendly and outgoing temperament and be comfortable in new environments and when meeting new people of all ages and abilities. They must be non-aggressive, tolerant of other animals, and demonstrate strong manners and obedience skills. Dogs in the program have been observed and registered as Therapy Dogs after displaying a friendly temperament and showing skill at adapting to new environments and meeting new people. Volunteers may also visit facilities with small shelter animals such as kittens, cats, or rabbits. As shelter dogs don’t usually spend long periods of time at the shelter, canine therapy animals are not typically shelter dogs but the pets of Midcoast Humane volunteers.
THE BENEFITS OF PET THERAPY
- Provides an opportunity for socialization
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Comforts and soothes
- Encourages playfulness
- Offers stress relief
- Teaches caring, nurturing, and responsibility