Pets As Therapy
- Contact with pets has proven therapeutic value in:
* Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
* Easing depression and loneliness
* Physiotherapy/rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities
* Encouraging regular gentle exercise
Sick patients often feel isolated and even the most withdrawn seem to
open up and let the barriers down when their regular Pets as Therapy
(PAT) visiting dog is around. These dogs bring everyday life closer
and with it all the happy associations for them of home comforts. The
constant companionship of an undemanding animal, that gives
unconditional love, is often one of the most missed aspects of their
lives. PAT was formed to help make this loss more bearable and speed
PAT is a UK national charity founded in l983. It is unique in that it
provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care
homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues by
volunteers with their own friendly, temperament tested and vaccinated
dogs and cats. 2004 saw for the first time the introduction of
homoeopathically protected dogs into the scheme.
Since it's beginning over 18,000 dogs have been registered into the
PAT scheme. Every year some of these retire and new dogs, having
first been examined and passed on health, temperament, suitability
and stability grounds, join Pets As Therapy.
Today there are currently around 3,500 active PAT visiting dogs and
90 cats at work in the UK. Every week these calm friendly dogs and
cats give more than 10,000 people, both young and old, the pleasure
and chance to cuddle and talk to them. The bedsides that are visited
each year number a staggering half million.
Once new visitors have passed their dogs through the assessment and
health check procedure and each has come forward with two character
references, their local Area Co-ordinator or allocated contact waits
to be contacted to activate the visiting process. This hard working
team of volunteers throughout the UK keep in regular contact with a
designated number of PAT dogs and cats and their owners.
PAT are in the process of setting in place research to further
validate the very real health benefits these animals bring daily into
the lives of those people who are ill or disabled.
Membership of PAT automatically gives full public liability insurance
cover up to £5,000,000 to each individual visiting pet while on
Charity business. This is a legal necessity and also a comfort factor
for both the visitor and the visited. As a bonus, the PAT visitor and
their pet are covered for the same amount while not on PAT business
All PAT dogs and cats are required to pass an assessment to check
their temperament by PAT accredited assessors, qualified vets and vet
nurses and to be fully vaccinated or homoeopathically protected,
wormed and protected against fleas. Records are required by the
charity and each volunteer is bound to send copies when boosters have
Each PAT dog has an identifying tag on its collar and many of them
wear a distinctive yellow coat. The owner has a photo ID badge which
is worn for security at all times when visiting. Pets As Therapy have
introduced a photo ID membership tag for its PAT Dogs & Cats as well.
As the largest charity of its type in Europe, Pets As Therapy
recognises that security needs are paramount and that busy
authorities and on duty staff alike, need the reassurance of a
therapeutic supportive service which is problem free.
More about Pets As Therapy at: http://www.petsastherapy.org