Getting Involved in the Pet Therapy Program at UH Cleveland Medical Center

Pet Pals-volunteer and dogPet Pals is a pet therapy program that uses trained volunteers and their adult dogs to make short, in-room visits to adults and children who would enjoy the company of a furry friend.

Pet therapy has been found to have several benefits for children and adults. Pet therapy can reduce stress, promote healing, lower blood pressure, and lift spirits. In addition, pet therapy provides a comforting source of healing touch for children and adults in the hospital.

Several different breeds are involved in the Pet Pals program at University Hospitals. All Pet Pals dogs have undergone a veterinary examination and a behavioral screening test, and all dogs are bathed before each visit. The Pet Pals visit Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m.

For information on volunteering with the Pet Pals program, please contact the Volunteer Office at 216-844-1504.


Requirements and Screening Criteria for UH Cleveland Pet Pals

  • Dogs must be at least 2 years old and no older than 8 years old to qualify for screening. The owner/volunteer must be at least 18 years old.
  • It is preferred that male dogs be neutered.
  • Dogs must have current Therapy Dog International, Delta Society or Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dog certification.
  • Dogs must be friendly and obedient with no history of aggression or biting.
  • Entry into the program will be determined by whether the dog/owner team meets the required behavioral criteria and whether the dog meets the required medical criteria.
  • Only owners/volunteers who have tested with the dog are permitted to bring the dog to the hospital for visits. For example, if a husband and wife wish to both bring the dog to the hospital for visits, both the husband and wife are required to participate in the Temperament Evaluation Test.
  • Meeting both the behavioral and medical screening criteria is necessary for acceptance into the Pet Pals program.
  • Upon acceptance, Pet Pals volunteers are required to attend an orientation designed specifically for the Pet Pals volunteer. The orientation must be completed prior to visiting patients.
  • Upon enrollment in the program, the dog/owner team will be on probation for a total of six visits, at which time an evaluation will be completed for permanent enrollment in the program.
  • Inappropriate behavior by either the owner/volunteer or the dog may be grounds for removal from the program. A Behavior Guideline Review Board has been established to decide on inappropriate behavior cases.
  • Owners/volunteers will be expected to commit to one day (1st Tuesday, 3rd Thursday, etc.) a month.
  • Dogs enrolled in the Pet Pals program are required to have an annual documented veterinarian visit.
  • UH Cleveland Medical Center coordinates all Pet Pal volunteers except for those at UH Portage Medical Center.

Therapy Dog Certification

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center requires all dogs being screened for the Pet Pals program to be Certified Therapy dogs. For information on therapy dog certification we have provided you with the following information on the three programs we recognize. Please contact them directly for information.

Therapy Dog International
Email: tdi@gti.net
Phone: 973-252-9800

Pet Partners

Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs
Phone: 1-888-PET-5770