The Companion Animal Program is an all-volunteer, tax-exempt 501(c) (3) charitable corporation. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life of our Cape Cod residents. Although originally organized to serve the older and disabled population, CAP has expanded its mission to additionally serve children and youth in library, school, college and related settings. CAP continues to work with those who live or participate in out-of-home, day and residential and hospital programs. CAP provides the enjoyment and therapeutic support of trained and certified companion animals; visiting pre-approved sites (see our list on the VISITS page). Pets and their owners become Therapy Teams following rigorous preparation and testing to meet safety standards of behavior and excellence in the field of pet therapy. These are not service dogs. These are pets, now certified Therapy Dogs, belonging to our members, who share their love with the population we serve.
Before pets are welcomed into our formalized program there must be an acceptable standard of behavior to insure client safety. Pets are first screened for appropriate physical well-being and behavioral stability. Owners are specifically trained as handlers to work in a therapeutic setting. Together pets and their owners become Therapy Teams that are re-evaluated at least every two years to insure the highest levels of care. Experienced volunteers supervise every visit and each facility is screened for compatibility.
BENEFITS OF ANIMAL
So you want your dog to be a Therapy dog because you love
your dog and feel he would be a great gift to others.
It is a wonderful gift to give but there are
a few things to consider first.
1. Is your dog interested in other people they don’t know? children? Some are genuinely happy to be in the company of strangers and be touched. A more reserved dog can be a terrific therapy dog but will need the training we offer to see if this work is right for your dog. Taking our training course and testing will illuminate if this work is right for you and your dog.
2. Your dog needs to be comfortable with other dogs in their space. CAP visits consist of several teams of dogs visiting at the same facility. We do have a 6 ft. rule of separation between dogs and no nose to tail interaction during visits. Our 12-week training course works on making this comfortable for your dog.
3. Your dog has to be under control in an easy manner in all aspects of the visit. What does that mean? You and your dog work as a team which includes calmly handling distraction, impulse control, and attention to the handler. You and your dog will also have to deal with stress and uncontrollable behavior by the clientele. These aspects are all covered in our training course.
4.This work requires compassion and understanding from you.CAP asks for an hour monthly commitment and it is a community service that will at times be stressful for you. We work with how to handle this for you and your dog. We require that you “shadow” visit with one of our existing teams without your dog so you understand how this work will affect you as well as your dog.
5. If you and your dog need more time to work with one of these aspects, we work with you and your dog to strengthen these skills and enable you to retest with the next scheduled testing at the end of the class.
Yes, it is a wonderful gift for you and your dog to give. CAP would like it to be right for you both and we’d like to help you prepare for and enjoy many happy years of visiting together.
Our Spring Classes start March 5th at the Chatham Dog Club, March 31st at Josephs’s Obedience in Pocasset, and on May 6th at MSPCA in Centerville. Please see our TRAINING page for more information and an application.
CAP relies completely on membership and charitable donations. Please help us to provide over 5,000 therapeutic visits each year by making a tax-deductible donation.
Or make checks payable to Companion Animal Program and mail to:
COMPANION ANIMAL PROGRAM, INC.
P.O. Box 2674
Hyannis MA 02601
Thank you for your support!
The effects of animal assisted therapeutic activities have been well-documented and proven, including improved physical and emotional health. Therapeutic and life enhancing rewards result when volunteer Therapy Teams interact with those in institutional and other out-of-home settings. Interaction encourages communication, reduces feelings of isolation and stress and gives the individuals a sense of importance and value in a way that, perhaps only an animal can accomplish.