Volunteer FAQs

What kinds of animals do you certify?

Currently we certify dogs and cats. If you have another type of animal that you would like to get certified, please let us know!

What do I need to do to become certified?

First, you must book your animal into one of our obedience tests. Once your animal is successfully though this phase, they are on to the second phase: the temperament test. The purpose of this test is to ensure that your animal will enjoy work as an AAT animal. Third, your animal must have a vet check to ensure that they are healthy and free from contagious illnesses, and your animal MUST NOT be on a raw meat diet (this is to prevent the possible spread of bacteria). Finally, both of you must attend an orientation where you will learn all about Animal Assisted Therapy and what will be expected of you in your placement.

What kind of a time commitment is required?

Some of our volunteers come out as little as once a month and some come out as much as twice a week. It all depends on your schedule. We also have placements for animals during the day, evenings and weekends.

Do I have to leave my animal in someone else’s care?

No! You will be with your animal at all times when you are volunteering.

My animal does not have a ‘sit and cuddle’ kind of personality. Can they still be a therapy animal?

YES! Many of our volunteer dogs play agility, frisbee and fetch during their animal assisted therapy sessions. Other species of active animals can also be great additions to clients who may be reluctant to get out of bed or need motivation to move. Sometimes, there is nothing better than an energetic companion!

I don’t have a pet, can I still volunteer?

Yes, absolutely!  We are always in need of volunteers to help us at certain events, and with obedience and temperament testing.  You’ll still need to complete the volunteer forms and send them to us, and  attend a volunteer orientation session.

 I think my pet would be a great therapy animal but I am not sure they will pass the test, what can I do?

We suggest working with a certified trainer on getting your animal comfortable in a therapeutic setting. The trainers who conduct the testing for CAAWLS run Therapy Dog Prep classes every few months and these are just some of the many classes offered around the city that can help get your dog's obedience and comfort level up to our test standards. Please contact coordinator@caawls.org or visit www.dogspaw.ca.

There’s no way my pet is going to pass the obedience or temperament test, can I still volunteer?

Yes you can!  Just without your pet.  Unfortunately uncertified animals will not be permitted to attend CAAWLS events, but humans can become “certified” as volunteers without an animal.  We are always in need of volunteers to help us at certain events and with testing.