OSF St. Joseph Medical Center

Animal Assisted Therapy

We believe in treating both the emotional and physical needs of our patients.

Animal Assisted Therapy, known as “Karing Partners” at OSF St. Joseph, uses highly trained dogs and handlers to enhance the overall quality of our patient's experience.

Therapy dogs bring comfort to the patients while reducing stress, anxiety, pain, and blood pressure.

A visit from one of our canine companions also increases patient social interaction and communication.

How It Works

In order to be eligible to participate in the Karing Partners program, you and your canine must be certified by Therapy Dog by Pet Partners, Therapy Dogs International, or Therapy Dogs, Inc.

The program has a strict evaluation process in place for the safety of our patients, staff, handlers, and canines. You will be required to participate in shadowed visits at the medical center prior to full acceptance into the program.

Karing Partners Dog VisitKaring Partners Dog Visit Town and Country Kennel Club is our local facility providing testing and certification.


In order to be a Karing Partner, volunteers must receive a flu shot annually.

Dogs must:

  • Be certified as a therapy dog
  • Be at least one year old; dogs from 18 to 24 months are preferred, but all ages are welcome to apply
  • Be able to follow these commands: sit, down, stay, stay and recall on command
  • Be able to walk loosely on a leash without pulling, even when excited or in a new environment
  • Get along well with other dogs
  • Like people
  • Not be overly vocal
  • Meet all health requirements for the program
  • Meet all requirements for training and evaluation
  • Dogs must have up-to-date vaccinations and they can NOT be on a raw meat diet.

Please Note: Prong collars and gentle leaders are not acceptable.

Please note: As a health care facility, OSF St. Joseph is limited to the breeds and types of dogs that are appropriate for patients.

At this time, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers are not considered for participation in the program.

Visit Guidelines (PDF - 35.5 KB)

How to Apply

If you and your dog would like to be considered for the Karing Partners team, please follow these instructions:

After we receive BOTH of your applications, you will be contacted to set up a personal interview for you and your dog.

For more information about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Services at (309) 665-4728.