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PetPals NC connects therapy dog teams with students who need them

PetPals NC is a group that connects people and animals by recruiting therapy dog teams to work with K-12 children in school settings. They don’t do the therapy dog training, rather they serve as a bridge between school officials, teachers, and counselors and the therapy dog teams.

“We currently serve multiple schools in North Carolina within Orange County, Chapel Hill – Carrboro, and Durham districts . . . and we have numerous requests for new teams, so we hope to raise funds needed to continue our growth.”

Students are selected for the program by their counselor or other school official and that individual also helps plan and direct the session while the dog handler monitor’s and facilitates the interactions between the student and the dog. At this time, there are only dog teams working with PetPals but they are open to including teams with other animals, like cats.

Here are some of the things that the dogs may do in schools:

“Services provided are called Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), both similar, but AAT is more involved (specifically planned interventions that are goal-directed, designed for a particular student, and progress is measured).

Students can be worked with individually, or in small or large groups.

Whole classrooms might be involved, such as in presentations about animal care or humane education. Depending on the task, work can take place in the classroom, in offices, or outside.

Examples of Pet-Assisted Interventions in Schools:

– Practice teaching the animal something new using sequencing.

– Practice reading and articulation

– Learn about and practice care, watering, and feeding of the animal

– Manipulate vest zippers and collar buckles

– Brush and pet

– Remember and repeat information about the animal to others

– Take the animal for a supervised walk

– Receive and give appropriate affection and acceptance with the animal

– Discuss how animals may feel in certain situations and compare to humans

– Learn gentle ways to handle animals

– Signal and/or verbalize commands”

You can learn more about PetPals NC on their website, linked above, and on their social media channels, Facebook and Instagram.

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