Pet Therapy

Supported by PetSmart Charities

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To make a donation to the Paws for Hope Pet Therapy Program at Orlando Health

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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 80 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 Pet Therapy Program. If you have a dog that loves people and has a calm temperament, consider volunteering with us at Orlando Health.

Becoming a Pet Therapy Volunteer

First, determine if you meet eligibility requirements:

1. Registered with one of the following national organizations

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

If Eligible, please fill out the Pet Therapy Application and contact the Pet Therapy Coordinator at [email protected]. Once your application has been processed, you will be contacted to schedule an interview with you and your therapy dog. 

Pet Therapy Application

For more questions, please contact [email protected]

About Orlando Health Pet Therapy Program – PetSmart Charities

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 80 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.

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.


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.