Pet Therapy Program
Paws for Hope Pet Therapy Program at Orlando Health
Our therapy dogs bring joy, comfort and healing to Orlando Health patients, family members and staff.
We are grateful for our pet therapy volunteers and their dogs. We currently have 60 pet therapy teams visiting patients at 6 different Orlando Health hospitals. If you are an Orlando Health patient or family member and would like a visit from one of our loving therapy dogs ask your nurse to submit a request to the Volunteer Services office.
To better serve our patients and meet the number of requests we receive daily, we are looking for more pet therapy volunteers to join the Paws for Hope Program. If you have a dog that loves people and has a calm temperament, consider volunteering with us at Orlando Health.
Becoming a Paws for Hope Pet Therapy Volunteer
First, determine if you meet eligibility requirements:
1. Registered with one of the following national organizations
- Pet Partners rel="noopener noreferrer"
- Alliance rel="noopener noreferrer" for Therapy Dogs
- Therapy Dogs International
2. Age and dog ownership
You are at least 18 years old and have owned your dog for at least 6 months.
3. Meet commitment requirements
You are able to volunteer with your dog at least 2 times per month and groom your dog before each visits. Either groom yourself or have your dog professionally groomed.
If eligible, please fill out the online volunteer application and contact the Volunteer Manager at the hospital where you wish to volunteer. Once your application is processed, you will be contacted to schedule an interview rel="noopener noreferrer" with you and your therapy dog.
Volunteer Application links:
Volunteer Managers Contact Information
Downtown Adult Hospitals 321-841-5379
Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC)
UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health (UFHCC)
Ambulatory Care Center (ACC)
Orlando Health Heart Institute (OHHI)
South Seminole Hospital 321-842-2590
Dr. P Phillips Hospital – 321-842-8615
Arnold Palmer Hospital 321-841-5932
About Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program – PetSmart Paws for Hope
Although Pet Therapy at Orlando Health started a number of years ago, the generosity of both Chris Barley and PetSmart has launched the Program forward to where it is today, a corporate-wide Program. In addition, PetSmart’s sponsorship makes it the first adult hospital program in the country to be a “PetSmart Paws for Hope” Program.
Here at Orlando Health, our pet therapy teams engage in both Animal Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Therapy. We currently have 60 teams making over 50,000 pet therapy visits each year at six different hospitals and various clinics. Our canine therapists may not have MDs but they do have impressive credentials. They are sensitive, loving and they know stuff like sit, stay, come and how to walk on a loose leash. They are controllable, predictable, reliable and responsive to their handlers. They are registered with a national organization, and genuinely look forward to visiting hospital patients. They are fearless of hospital noises, love to ride the elevator, and don’t mind being groomed before each visit. When they visit patients they show love and affection, and they are “tail wagging” happy. They have a language all of their own that delivers the best medicine, a smile. Handlers are an equally important part of the Pet Therapy team. The handler must possess the skills and knowledge required to visit patients in various types of medical facilities and often in challenging situations both emotionally and physically. It is critical that handlers are people oriented; enjoy listening, and show great empathy and compassion for others. The handler must also have good control of their animal and communicate clearly with their animal at all times. Please watch the video above to see some amazing pet therapy in action.
Meet Our Pet Therapy Volunteers
We hope you will consider joining our Program. To learn more about our Program and procedures, please review the Pet Therapy Orientation Manual for the adult hospitals below. Many of your questions regarding specific Program requirements will be answered in this document.
- Pet Therapy Orientation Manual; or
- Submit a request for more information; or
- Kim Bissing
If you are not able to participate in the Program as a Pet Therapy team member but still wish to offer support, please consider making a donation. Donations help us expand the Pet Therapy Program throughout the Orlando Health System.