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P.A.W.S. Program

PAWS program
Active Re-Entry supports the PAWS (People & Animals Working to Serve) Program. The use of animals to facilitate positive changes in a broad spectrum of therapeutic settings is becoming more accepted, appreciated and valued. Under the direction of health services and education professionals, animal-assisted therapy can promote physical, emotional, cognitive, and social improvement for people with special needs.

In animal-assisted therapy (AAT) programs, volunteer teams become formally involved in patient treatment regimens, helping motivate the achievement of a wide variety of goals and objectives. As those who share their lives with animals will attest, there are benefits that animals can provide that often times people cannot. Research is now corroborating this conventional wisdom. Miraculous improvements have occurred during animal-assisted therapy visits.

The Active Re-Entry P.A.W.S. Program participates in both AAT and animal-assisted activity (AAA) programs, in which volunteers visit formally with hospital patients, nursing home residents and people in other facilities.

The P.A.W.S. Program takes their code from a quote by Margaret Mead... "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

We serve at a variety of locations throughout Southeastern Utah, helping to brighten the day of many age groups, no matter what their physical or mental status.

What is a Therapy Animal?

A therapy animal possesses the necessary skills and aptitude to facilitate therapy under the direction of a health care or human services professional. Active Re-Entry's PAWS program does not accept pets for training.

Therapy animals are owned by volunteers, not by the people or organizations they serve. Pets must be current on vaccinations, well-groomed, and well-socialized with other animals and people. Dogs, cats, and rabbits are some of the species that have been certified as therapy animals.

What Makes a Good PAWS Animal?

Just because your animal is photogenic does not mean that it has a Therapy animal's personality. Here is an article from Bark Magazine. It is entitled Lending a Helping Paw: Is your dog a good fit for therapy duty? We recommend this additional reading, so you know what to expect.

Being a therapy animal is more than just letting a person pet your animal. You need to be prepared for anything, and your animal has to remain calm and commanded, and so do you.

Qualifications, Insurance Info & Nitty Gritty Legal Bits

PAWS program
The following policies, procedures and guidelines have been established necessary to meet the requirements for our insurance carrier.

The P.A.W.S. volunteer program will only be involved in registering domesticated dogs, cats and rabbits. For insurance purposes, no other species of animals will be allowed under this insurance policy. Because there have been a few cases of high profile and liability within certain canine breeds, our insurance carrier does not wish us to register Pitbulls, Pitbull mixes, Rottweiler's, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinchers.

We recognize there are many good dogs within these breeds and their owners wish to demonstrate their dog's abilities and personalities. We suggest they contact Best Friends or Love-A-Bull to join in their efforts of promoting responsible ownership through education and advocacy.

Requirements for PAWS Animals:

  • Animals must be at least one year old and have lived with the handler for a minimum of six months.
  • Some individuals wish to have their dog become a therapy dog in the hopes that they may accompany them everywhere they go. Be aware that Therapy Dogs DO NOT HAVE the same legal rights/public access rights as Service Dogs.
  • The dog, cat or rabbit involved in the program should have reliable, dependable and predictable behavior as well as not being alarmed by loud noises, different settings and most importantly, enjoys and seeks out interactions with people.
  • The minimum age requirement of a handler is 18. If a person younger than 18 wishes to be involved, they may offer to accompany another handler on their visits or co-handle with another member of the animal's family.
  • All animals need to have an animal health screening completed by a veterinarian. Health screening includes up-to-date vaccinations and fecal exam results. As with the Skills and Aptitude Assessment, this health screening will need to be renewed every two years.
  • Volunteers are expected to visit, minimally two times a month. Visits usually last 40 minutes to an hour.

Requirements for PAWS Handlers:

  • Handlers need to attend a 4 hour workshop which will provide an overview of the program: basics such as "what goes in a visiting bag"; where we visit; expectations of volunteer teams; elements of the skills and aptitude test, and other pertinent requirements. Handlers must take this workshop run by the PAWS volunteer coordinator before the evaluation and volunteering. Depending on need and interest, this workshop will be offered up to two times per year. There will need to be at least four participants before a workshop will be held.
  • In addition, after the workshop, you and your animal will take part in a Skills and Aptitude Assessment. This evaluation simulates various visiting situations the team may encounter. It encompasses basic obedience skills as well as role playing situations and interactions. This evaluation will need to be renewed every two years to remain under the insurance umbrella. Depending on need and interest, a Skills and Aptitude test will be offered up to three times a year. Evaluations will only be conducted to individuals who plan to actively volunteer for Active Re-Entry's P.A.W.S program.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage is only good as long as the team is a registered team with ARECIL/P.A.W.S. ARECIL provides liability insurance that protects you from claims of others for injury or illness and property damage resulting from animal assisted activities. This coverage does not protect your team from injury or illness as a result of participation in this program. Coverage applies to the P.A.W.S. registered teams functioning as a therapy team at a visit or event. An animal assisted intervention may include, but is not limited to, making visits at a facility such as a hospital, nursing home, library, school, detention center, hospice care, etc. P.A.W.S. participation can also include community events such as a parade, educational seminar, public educational event, or events promoting or describing P.A.W.S.

Insurance Policies:

  • If you are not engaged in PAWS sponsored activities, you are not covered by our insurance.
  • Dogs trained to aggressively protect and/or encouraged to actively bite, even as a component of a dog sport shall not be evaluated or part of the program.
  • All animals must wear a collar or harness and be attached to a leash for safety at all times during the test and during visits to facilities.
  • Any time a leash is dropped, insurance coverage by Active Re-Entry is null and void.
  • If someone other than the owner wishes to volunteer with the animal, they need to successfully pass all requirements (workshop and evaluation) and become members of ARECIL's P.A.W.S. program.
  • Teams need to be re-evaluated every two years to keep registration and insurance coverage.
  • All dogs must be current on rabies, and all other vaccinations (rabies, distemper, parvo, heartworm and others). Animals should not visit with open wounds, stitches, infections or other disabling conditions.
  • Both animals and handlers need to have a professional appearance. Animals should be clean, brushed, with nails trimmed/filed, and have clean teeth. Handlers can not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nor wear any type of skimpy or tight-fitting attire including short shorts, tank tops, etc. It is advisable to wear sensible walking shoes.

Membership is a privilege, not a right, granted by ARECIL's agreement with the insurance carrier and membership may be revoked at any point in time.

PAWS Animal Equipment

Acceptable Equipment:

PAWS program
  • Collars and harnesses should be well fitted buckle collar, quick release or martingale collars, and leather or fabric harnesses. Metal buckles, slip rings, and D-rings are acceptable.
  • Leashes need to be all leather or fabric. Leashes should be appropriate size for the animal being tested.

Unacceptable Equipment - For Testing and ALL VISITS:

  • No metal chain collars (choke), or "pinch" collars or any metal on a collar other than "D-ring" or metal buckle. In addition, no-pull harnesses and muzzles are not acceptable equipment to be used during visits.
  • There should be no metal on a leash other than on a connecting buckle. For safety reasons, no flexi-leashes or retractable leashes may be used.
  • Flea collars should not be worn during visits.
  • Because gentle leaders have the appearance of being a form of a muzzle, no gentle leaders should be used. Dogs involved in therapy work should be able to walk calmly at the side of the handler with a harness or regular collar.

Help Us Make a PAWS-itive Difference

The Active Re-Entry, P.A.W.S. Program welcomes all who want to lend a helping paw. You can support our efforts in the following ways:

  • Don't own an animal? You can still help out PAWS. Become a friend of PAWS by donating $40. These funds go to training, travel, carnations for residents of nursing homes. All donations are tax deductible.
  • Corporate and institutional sponsors and/or supporters are also welcome. We will be glad to send a representative to speak to your organization about our work.
  • Below, you will also find our PAWS calendar and our PAWS Christmas cards, you can purchase them at Active Re-Entry.
  • Also keep an eye out for photos with Santa PAWS on our front page. Around the beginning of every December, Santa PAWS takes time from compiling his naughty or nice list and poses with area animals for a small fee that he then gives to the PAWS program.
For more information about participating with and/or supporting the Active Re-Entry, P.A.W.S. Program, please contact Kathryn Kilbourne, P.A.W.S. Coordinator at 435-637-4590.