An Introduction to PETS AS THERAPY

PAT organises therapeutic visits by pet owners who volunteer to take their pets (mainly dogs) to visit people in hospitals, hospices, retirement homes, frail care facilities, special needs schools residential centres, and a variety of other venues. PAT visits bring company, support, comfort, pleasure, stress relief and stimulation to those living either permanently or temporarily in these and other establishments.

There is a fortune of scientific evidence showing that the interaction between people and pets is therapeutic – physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially.

Visiting with animals can help people feel less lonely, and less depressed. Visits from pets can provide a welcome change from routine, or the renewal of old friendships. People become more active and responsive both during and after visiting with animals.

An animal visit can offer entertainment or a welcome distraction from pain and infirmity. People often talk to the visiting pets, and share with them their thoughts and feelings and memories. Animal visits provide something to look forward to. Stroking a dog or cat can reduce a person's blood pressure, and petting encourages use of hands and arms, stretching and turning.

Most owners really love their pets and get so much pleasure from this relationship. Some feel that they want to share the joy and love of their animal companions with others. PAT’s role is to help facilitate this process. Sometimes, it’s really hard to phone an institution and say that you want to visit.  There are also a whole range of issues that need to be considered such as:

  • The suitability of the pet – its own temperament as well as the correct match between the pet and the clients. A docile elderly pooch will get overwhelmed in a children’s home, and yet would be of great comfort in a frail care unit;
  • The health of the pet – it wouldn’t be appreciated if visiting pets caused a resident to get worms or started a flea epidemic! Nor would we want to stress any pet;
  • The nature of the institution.


So Pets as Therapy assesses you and your animal companion as a team. We match you with an institution where all will benefit.  We support you to ensure that you feel confident on visits, and provide ongoing support to you.