Animal Assisted Therapy

Making Community Connections Is What It’s All About!

The Humane Society of Sonoma County Animal Assisted Therapy, AAT, program connects our volunteer certified dog teams to a wide variety of community members and partnering organizations. We serve seniors, students, youth, teens, libraries, families, at risk and special needs members of our community by matching our volunteer AAT teams to sites throughout the county. Reaching out to community members that are isolated and vulnerable and spreading cheer to a wide variety of partnering community support agencies and special events makes the human animal bond accessible to everyone, especially those that may not be able to have their own personal animal companion or have access to companion animals.

What is Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)?

At The Humane Society of Sonoma County, we recognize the healing benefits of the human-animal bond. The Animal Assisted Therapy program was designed to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between people & animals, aid in the development of trust, enhance cognitive functioning, and promote psychological and emotional healing. The effectiveness of AAT has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance positive mood. Our AAT program connects certified therapy animal teams with partnering community organizations to bring the therapeutic effect of animals to those in need. Our certified teams are matched with libraries and schools, where our Read to a Dog Program helps young learners gain literacy skills to foster a love of reading. Our AAT teams also visit assisted living facilities, skilled care facilities, senior communities, mental health hospitals, special education school programs, hospice patients, and other organizations within the community. AAT visits facilitate communication, trust, connection, comfort, and companionship by encouraging the nurturing effects of the human animal bond.

Educational Support

Our Animal Assisted Therapy dog teams are matched in classrooms throughout Sonoma County where they provide companionship and comfort to youth learning to read. For struggling readers the support of an understanding non- judgmental dog  relieve stress and anxiety creating a positive engaging experience to the joys of reading. Our AAT teams are also matched in special education classrooms, assisting educators and providing encouragement to students to reach their academic goals, through accompanying them during their occupational and physical therapy, social and written and verbal exercises.

Senior Connections and Support

Our AAT volunteer dog teams visit a wide variety of senior facilities such as independent and assisted living communities, senior day centers and rehabilitation facilities. We also partner with the North Bay Hospice by the Bay organization. The weekly visits encourage community connections and stimulate communication while reducing feelings of isolation for those that may not have the ability to commute.

Adult Connections

We also partner with agencies that offer support to adults that need assistance through day programs. Our AAT teams are included in weekly activities that stimulate interaction, engagement and communication for participates.

Community Outreach Events

The Humane Society is often invited to participate in local fairs, parades, fund raisers, dine and donate events at breweries, wineries, restaurants, colleges and universities, local businesses and many special events. Our AAT dog teams join us, as wonderful animal ambassadors, that offer special connections and bring the love, at large community events.

How to Become an AAT Volunteer

 

The Humane Society offers a series of dog training classes for those interested in certification to become an Animal Assisted Therapy volunteer team with your dog, that include basic beginning foundation pre-requisite courses in preparation for the advance Animal Assisted Therapy class. Once completed our coordinator will assist you with matching you to a local partnering organization for weekly visits.  If you have any questions about required dog training please contact dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org