Thank you for your interest in AAT! We are excited to meet you and your pet. This first checklist covers our training prerequisites.
To begin evaluation for the programs, you must complete all of the following:
- Your pet should, at all times, be on a flat collar or harness and non-retractable leash;
- All pets must be one year of age, and in the current home for a minimum of six months;
- All pets must be surgically altered (spay/neuter);
- Pets cannot have ANY negative history with humans; e.g. no growling, biting, or other signs of aggression directed toward people;
- Pets may NOT be fed a raw protein diet;
- Pets must be generally solicitous; i.e. pets must willingly approach;
- Handlers must be 18 years of age;
- Handlers must know the pet's stress signals; and
- All incoming teams must have at least two obedience courses. **The classes must exclusively teach positive reinforcement-based training--we cannot accept courses rooted in aversive training techniques or aversive gear.** If you have taken training courses, but are unsure whether they meet this qualification, please contact us at 415.554.3060 or AAT@sfspca.org.
Once you meet the above requirements, you are invited to complete an application and register for an orientation:
- Application Please download and submit an application to begin your volunteer processing. Note: If you are only able to volunteer on weekends and/or evenings, we are accepting those applications but may not have as many visit opportunities for you at this time.
- AAT Orientation All participants must complete an AAT orientation, which are offered on the San Francisco SPCA campus on a minimum of seven Tuesdays and seven Sundays over the course of each calendar year. Please use the link to register.
There are several additional steps to AAT certification, which you will learn about at your AAT Orientation. In brief, they include
- AAI evaluation (formerly known as the preliminary evaluation, this is the evaluation you will take to enter the program as well as recertify biennially);
- veterinary health certification (annual renewal required, to include current vaccines and annual fecal);
- observation shadows (without your pet you observe a current team);
- AAT class;
- mentored visits (a seasoned volunteer or staff member will accompany you and your pet on, at minimum, your first visit);
- biennial recertification (as noted above, this is called our AAI evaluation).
NOTE: Many of our sites and populations have requirements beyond the basic ones outlined here. If you are interested in serving in a particular program or a specific population, please let us know and we can work with you to achieve those goals.
Contact the Animal Assisted Therapy department at 415.554.3060 or email AAT@sfspca.org.