We provide an Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program to patients and their families for therapeutic purposes. The AAT Program includes both volunteer therapy animal teams and full-time employed facility dog teams. Our volunteer teams visit patients, families, and staff at events and at the bedside, improving their mood and helping them through tough days. Our facility dog teams work with staff to help patients meet treatment goals from physical therapy sessions to coping with a long hospital stay, new diagnosis or preparing for a procedure. 

Scientific research has shown a patient's interaction with an animal can provide positive physical and emotional benefits. It can reduce stress levels and invoke a sense of well-being. AAT acts as a catalyst to motivate patients to help themselves. Among the benefits of animal-assisted therapy are the ways it motivates children to:

  • Get up, move, walk, leave their room and play
  • Participate in therapy (physical, occupational and speech)
  • Forget their discomfort or pain for a while
  • Interact more with others
  • Improve their mood
  • Improve their interactions with family and staff
  • Do things that may be a struggle such as eating, taking medication, or simply being idle

Volunteering Without a Pet

Whether or not you have a pet, you can still volunteer as part of our Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program. Each AAT team is comprised of three members - the animal, their handler (the pet owner), and another volunteer that helps gather data on each patient visit using a handheld iPad. They also help the team maintain hygiene standards that are required during the visit and ensure treatment goals are met. Want to learn more about this important volunteer role? Watch the two-minute video: Animal-Assisted Therapy Volunteer Escort

All prospective volunteers must become a registered In-hospital volunteer. Return to the Volunteer page to register to become an In-hospital volunteer.

Volunteering With a Pet

If you would like to volunteer with your pet, first you become registered as a therapy animal team. Our therapy animal teams are nationally registered and have 3 to 12 months of experience.

Phoenix Children's recognizes three national organizations:

An evaluator will test you and your pet. Your pet needs to be calm, predictable, pass basic obedience skills and be comfortable in a variety of settings. Once you have 3 to 12 months experience as a therapy animal team, your next step is to register as an In-hospital volunteer.

NOTE: Whether you are wanting to volunteer with the Animal-Assisted Therapy Program with or without a pet, you must become a registered In-hospital volunteer. Return to the Volunteer page to learn what you need to do to become a registered In-hospital volunteer and to apply.