What is The Companion Animal Program, Inc.? (CAP)
CAP is an all-volunteer organization of pet owners who have been trained and certified as Therapy Teams to visit with their pets at: care and assisted living facilities; programs serving children and adults with disabilities; the college; hospitals; libraries; and, schools on Cape Cod from Bourne to Provincetown. CAP is a non-profit, self-sustaining organization.
Why are CAP visitations welcomed by so many facilities?
Most people love animals and many of those we visit in care and assisted living facilities have had to give up their own pets. CAP Therapy Teams bring cheer to the people we visit. Those who are visited regularly often get to know our pets by name and look forward to the teams coming each month. Many people respond to animals when they are unable to respond to other people. It has also been clinically and medically shown that pet assisted therapy helps with depression, cognitive disorders, anxiety, and lowers blood pressure.
How can an organization become eligible for CAP visits?
If you are interested in applying for visitation by CAP Therapy Teams, click here to complete the ‘Adult Visitation Request Form.’ After receiving the completed form, 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 the person of your choice and meet with them to determine your facility’s appropriate visiting needs. We provide one-hour monthly visits from September through June at some facilities, and throughout the calendar year at others. For more information contact CAP Board President, Mary Wills.
What do we ask in return from the facilities we visit?
CAP charges no fees, but we do ask for publicity when and wherever possible via the facility’s newsletter, website, etc. We also request exclusive pet visits during the scheduled hour that we come, and we welcome contributions to help with our expenses, which include the cost of the insurance coverage we provide.
How often are the visits conducted?
The visits are usually scheduled monthly. Therapy Teams, consisting of certified members and their dogs, visit for about an hour. Some Therapy Teams visit one site, while others visit a few sites each month. The visits are sometimes conducted in a common area at the facility, or one on one in the client’s rooms.
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, socialized pets who enjoy being petted, snuggling, or maybe have a trick or two are wonderful visitors. Clients love a small dog that will sit in their lap or a larger dog who puts its chin on the person’s knee and wags its tail hoping for a pat. All pets must be trained, pass their evaluations, and be deemed appropriate to serve as therapeutic companions.
What would I have to do to qualify as a Therapy Team?
All persons representing CAP in any official CAP activity must be a member of CAP and pay membership dues. All pets representing CAP must also be a member of a certified CAP Therapy Team. Prospective Therapy Teams must first obtain the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate and possess basic obedience skills prior to attending The CAP Therapy Training Course. Many dog training locations on the Cape offer the AKC six-week course/test, and it’s a wonderful way to bond with your dog and teach good obedience skills. Dogs must be one year old to take the AKC class. After successfully attaining the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, teams can attend The CAP Training program, which is a series of classes designed to prepare the dog and handler for our dog therapy evaluation and orientation at a CAP visitation site. Please see CAP’s Training page for more detailed information and to apply for a class.
Most dogs and their handlers who complete the CAP 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, members and pets 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 CAP’s intent to ensure that our volunteer Therapy Teams are well suited for visits and are comfortable in the environments we serve. See the Training section of this website for more information on training, testing and evaluations.
Can you do a presentation for our club?
Yes. CAP will provide a speaker, and therapy animals to educate your group about our program and its activities. Email info@CompanionAnimalProgram.com .
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 or other health issue. In contrast, therapy animals work as a team with their owners to improve the lives of others in settings such as: libraries, schools, hospitals, care and assisted living facilities, and other community programs.
Do I get to use my CAP certified animal to fly or go into restaurants?
No! It is illegal and unethical. Only certified service animals are so privileged. There are no special rewards afforded to therapy animals, other than the gift of helping others.