OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center

Rockford, Illinois

Paws for Therapy Animal-Assisted Therapy

Stella the dogStella, animal-assisted therapy dog

Animal-assisted therapy uses highly trained animals and handlers to help patients achieve specific physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals. Specially trained therapy dogs and their owners will, on request, visit the hospital to bring comfort to patients; help reduce a patients' stress, anxiety, pain and blood pressure; and increase patient social interaction and communication. The OSF Saint Anthony program is modeled after the successful Paws 4 Therapy, Inc., program, which has been cited as a Joint Commission "Best Practice" and is the model for the newly proposed Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.

Interested in becoming part of our Animal-Assisted Therapy Program?

Basic Qualifying Requirements

  • Your dog should consistently perform the following with one command (“dog sit” and the dog puts his rear on the ground)
  • Sit on command
  • Down on command
  • Stay and recall on command
  • Walk loosely on a leash without pulling, even when excited or in a new environment
  • Get along well with other dogs
  • Able to perform commands without treats

Other requirements

  • John Benink and Koda.jpgKoda with a patient Your dog should like people
  • Not be overly vocal
  • Have no food or possession issues
  • Should not have separation anxiety issues
  • Your dog needs to be at least one year of age
  • Handlers must be 18 years or older
  • Dogs must be up to date on all vaccinations
  • Dogs must be free of all skin problems

*Prong collars and gentle leaders are not acceptable

Testing and Training Dates

Testing and training dates for new volunteers who would like to join OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center's Paws 4 Healing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program are scheduled several times each year. The deadline for submissions for this round of testing and training is March 9, 2016. If you or someone you know is interested in joining our amazing AAT program, please complete and submit an application.

Our AAT Coordinator will arrange for a phone interview to explain our program and to learn more about the applicant and his/her dog. If accepted to move forward, the handler and his/her dog will be invited to attend temperament testing on March 12, 2016. Teams who pass temperament testing will then attend two days of AAT training on April 9 and 10, 2016.

For more information, please call Volunteer Services at (815) 395-5064.

Volunteer Shifts and How to Apply

If you and your dog would like to be considered for part of this exciting program at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, please click here to download the Paws 4 Healing volunteer application. After phone screening, you may be invited to our temperament testing. If you and your dog pass, you will need to be available for training typically held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

If you are unable to attend the posted dates, please submit an application for consideration at future training opportunities.

Please contact us with any questions at (815) 395-5064.

Thank you,

Theresa Geraci, RN BSN
Animal-Assisted Coordinator
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
5666 E. State Street
Rockford, IL 61108