FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is The Companion Animal Program, Inc.? (CAP)
CAP is an all-volunteer organization of pet owners, who visit, with their pets, at nursing & care facilities, programs serving children and adults with disabilities, the college, a hospital, libraries and schools on Cape Cod from the Canal to Provincetown. CAP is non-profit, self-sustaining, with no paid employees.
Why are CAP visitations welcomed by so many facilities?
Most people love animals and many of those we visit have had to give up their own pets. Our pet visits cheer those we visit. They often get to know our pets by name and look forward to their visits each month. Many people respond to animals when they won't or cannot respond to other people. It has also been clinically and medically proven that pet assisted therapy helps with depression, cognitive disorders, and anxiety and lowers blood pressure!
How can an organization become eligible for CAP visits?
Click here to download a 'Visitation Request Form'. Please fill it out and return the completed form and we will put your organization on our waiting list and make every effort to accommodate your request as soon as possible. When visiting teams are available we will contact your Activity Director or other person of your choice and meet with them to determine the appropriate visiting needs. We provide one hour monthly visits from September through June. For more information contact CAP Board President Ellen Varnerin.
What do we ask in return from the facilities we visit?
Not much! CAP charges no fees but we do ask for publicity when and wherever possible; exclusive pet visitations during the scheduled hour that we visit and we ask for contributions to help with our expenses, including the always increasing cost for the insurance coverage we provide.
How often are the visits conducted?
The visits are usually scheduled monthly. Therapy Teams (the member and their animal) visit for about an hour. Some Therapy Teams visit one site, others as many as four sites a month. The visits are sometimes conducted in the Activity Room of the facility, or one on one in the client's rooms. Since there are a wide variety of locations, Therapy Teams may choose a convenient site.
What characteristics are most desirable in a pet?
Although the program has mostly dogs of many breeds, mixtures and sizes, unlike other pet therapy programs that use only dogs, CAP has used other pets in their therapy program. Well behaved social pets who enjoy petting, snuggling or maybe have a trick or two are wonderful visitors. Clients love a cat that purrs contently as it is stroked, or a small dog that will sit in their lap. The larger dog who puts its head in their lap, wags its tail hoping for a pat on the head, is also a great visitor. Of course, pets must be trained to be therapeutic companions!
What would I have to do to qualify as a Therapy Team?
All persons representing CAP in any activity must be a member of CAP and pay membership dues. All animals representing CAP must be a member of a certified CAP Therapy Team. Therapy Teams must attend CAP Therapy Team training and pass the CAP Therapy Team Evaluation, which consists of the elements included in the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test with modifications and additions, and pass the Team Orientation at a CAP visitation site.
Most dogs that complete the 12 week training class go on to be certified teams. We encourage those who don’t pass the first time to repeat classes and test again free of charge.
Why all these tests?
The safety of our clients is foremost. The testing measures the team's response to the unexpected - a hug, a pulled ear or tail, unconventional petting, reactions to medical equipment, and medical environments. This also measures the safety, reliability and controllability of the animal. Visiting clients with an animal is a serious responsibility. It is our intent to insure our volunteer Therapy Teams are well suited for visitations and are comfortable in these special environments. See our training for more information on training testing and evaluations.
Can you do a presentation for our club?
Yes, we will provide a speaker, and therapy animals to educate your group about our activities. Email info@CompanionAnimalProgram.com or contact us by phone at 508/394-0266
Are CAP certified animals Service Animals?
NO! A Service Animal is specially trained to perform specific tasks to help its owner who has a disability. In contrast, therapy animals work as a team with their owners to improve the lives of others in settings such as libraries, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Do I get to use my CAP certified animal to fly or go into restaurants?
NO! It is illegal and unethical. Only service animals are so privileged. There are no special rewards afforded to therapy animals, other than the gift of helping others.