PAWS for People has a number of different programs in place to meet the needs of those we visit and interests of our members. Below are brief descriptions of current programs.




adults-with-disabilitiesMental & Physical Disabilities

Our therapy teams visit at a variety of locations including group homes and day programs, which serve adults with a broad spectrum of cognitive and physical disabilities.

Recommended training: Creative Connections

Mental Health

Specially trained PAWS teams volunteer at both inpatient and outpatient mental health organizations, providing non-judgmental love and attention to people in group and individual settings.

Mandatory Training (within six months of initiating visits at mental health site): PS PAWS

Substance Abuse/Recovery

At residential treatment centers, PAWS teams offer comfort and support for people working toward sobriety in both inpatient and outpatient settings.


adult-hospitalCancer Treatment

PAWS therapy teams are invited into waiting areas and chemotherapy labs to help both distract and comfort people during challenging medical procedures.

General Hospital Visiting

PAWS has partnered with several local hospitals allowing therapeutic support to patients in a multitude of hospital settings.

Note: All hospitals require additional trainings through their volunteer services departments; to visit at Nemours/AI DuPont Hospital for children, a PAWS therapy team must achieve their Master’s Certification and complete Nemours Prep. 

Recommended training: PATHS


Stress, defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances,” is very prevalent in today’s society. Stress can manifest itself in many different areas of life, from student exam periods, to heavy workload times (think the accountant in April), or even in tragic circumstances, such as the death of a loved one or associate, or threats to one’s safety and well-being. PAWS for People teams offer the comfort of a loving therapy companion which can help alleviate stress people experience in many different situations. By simply being a presence onsite, therapy companions can lift spirits, decrease anxiety and bring a measured positive focus to the day. Many DeStress programs are offered through Community Events at PAWS; however, as the demand for these types of interactions increase, some sites have partnered with PAWS to provide regular DeStress sessions to their populations.




childrenAutism Initiative

Therapy teams are trained to use basic behavioral strategies during visits with children on the Autism Spectrum, as kids with this disorder frequently connect well with animals.

Mandatory Training: Autism Initiative

Mental & Physical Disabilities

Like our adult program, PAWS therapy teams visit at a variety of locations including hospitals and day/school programs, which serve kids with a broad spectrum of cognitive and physical disabilities.

Recommended Training: Creative Connections

Mental Health/Behavioral Issues

PAWS Psychiatric Support program also works with residential inpatient and day programs for children and adolescents struggling with a variety of mental health issues.

Mandatory training (within six months of initiating visits at mental health site): PS PAWS

PAWS for Reading

PAWS teams trained in this literacy support program work with kids in schools and libraries who are struggling or reluctant readers; we also work with English Language Learners of all ages. Meet the furry companions working in this program in our PAWS for Reading Pet Picture Gallery! Check out the PAWS for Reading schedule.

Mandatory Training: PAWS for Reading

Child Advocacy/Courthouse Companions

Partnering with the Department of Social Services in Cecil & Harford Counties (MD), PAWS teams visit with children who are in the court and foster care system. Specially trained teams also visit in the courtroom waiting areas in Delaware County (PA).

Mandatory Training: Courthouse Companions


eldersAssisted Living

PAWS teams visit elders who have moved into assisted living facilities, many of whom have had to leave their pets behind and are thrilled to see a furry face.


Animals are often able to connect in a way that people cannot, with elders whose minds are failing. Specially trained therapy teams work with many sites who house dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

Mandatory Training (within six months of initiating visits at a dementia site): Thinking Outside the Box

Skilled Care

Commonly known as nursing homes, skilled care facilities support elders who need ongoing medical care.  PAWS teams visit those in skilled care and rehab facilities offering distraction and comfort from the stress of long-term illness.


PAWS has partnered with several local hospice organizations offering training and certification for hospice volunteers to work with their own pets in this setting.

Note: All volunteers interested in working in Hospice settings must complete the Hospice’s own volunteer training.


paws-by-special-requestPeople are invited to contact PAWS for pet therapy visits when they think a visit with a loving PAWS pet and caring PAWS human would be beneficial for someone they care about. PAWS has provided services to children who have autism, spending time with a father in hospice care, sitting with patients receiving chemotherapy, and visiting with a woman with worsening Alzheimer’s helping her recall her youth and good times with her dog.

Learn more and make a request


PAWS for People is a nonprofit organization which recruits, tests and trains people and their well-behaved pets (dogs, cats and rabbits) to visit with anyone in our community who has a need for a pet visit. Most of our visits occur at our partnering sites, where we sign an agreement with the site to provide a certain type of visit to their population. Some of our visits also take place at community events where PAWS team attend and offer pet therapy to a specific community.

PAWS in the Workplace provides trained pet therapy teams the opportunity to provide pet therapy to people in need within their own workplace. Upon approval of the program, PAWS will provide the therapy team’s workplace with:

1) Proof of PAWS certification including completion of:

a. Orientation
b. Standards of Excellence (STEX) Testing
c. Training
d. Recertification as required

2) Proof of therapy companion’s vaccination records

3) Proof of PAWS membership in good standing

PAWS staff can also work with the staff to create:

1) A comprehensive pet therapy policy
2) Guidelines for handlers
3) Permission forms (if appropriate)

It is important to acknowledge that PAWS therapy companions are only covered under our commercial liability policy while they are visiting either at a sanctioned PAWS community event or at a PAWS partnering site. When a PAWS team works with their therapy companion at their workplace, PAWS insurance is not in effect. The team would need to verify coverage either through their employer or their own homeowner’s policy.

PERRT (Pet Emergency Response Therapy Teams)

perttDesigned in conjunction with DEMA (Delaware Emergency Management Agency), PERTT volunteers are on call to ease the anxiety and fear of those who have been affected by a natural disaster (flood, fire, etc.) and placed into a temporary shelter. The teams will need to take a special training class through DEMA and pass their STEX test at the Advanced level. PERTT volunteers must also be PAWS members for at least six months prior to participating in this program.


ptotMore physically active PAWS dogs support Physical and Occupational therapists encouraging patients to work harder toward and enjoy reaching individual goals. Therapy teams work closely under the direction of the supervising therapists.