Puppy Power/Guidelines for Volunteer Pet Therapy Handlers and Animals 

One of the volunteers at Saint Louis University Hospital has big brown eyes and a great big heart for people.  His very presence makes people smile, and he is known for being able to coax a response from patients who were previously non-communicative.  He is Maverick--a Golden Labrador Retriever!

Maverick is a certified Canine Good Citizen and he and his handler, Carol are graduates of the Humane Society’s pet therapy training program.   Maverick has been specially trained to remain steady and calm around wheelchairs, falling IV poles, and other situations where most dogs would run and hide.  Maverick has had all his shots, and is groomed weekly before his visits.  To identify that Maverick is an authorized Saint Louis University Hospital Volunteer, he wears a special blue or burgundy neckerchief and identification badge. 

The Saint Louis University Hospital Volunteer Pet Therapy Program is provided in several patient care areas.  Pet therapy teams visit once or twice a week, usually during daytime hours.   If you or someone you know is interested in becoming part of the Saint Louis University Hospital Volunteer Pet Therapy Program, please contact the Volunteer Office at 577-8030.

Guidelines for Saint Louis University Hospital Volunteer Pet Therapy Handlers and Animals.


1)       Documentation must be provided showing that the animal and handler have attended and achieved certification for pet therapy through any of the following organizations’ training programs:  Animal Protective Association, Delta Society, Humane Society, Support Dogs’ Touch Program, Therapy Dogs, Inc, or Therapy Dogs International. 

2)       Animal must be a certified Canine Good Citizen or have achieved an obedience title. 

3)       Certifications or re-certifications must have occurred within three years of application to Saint Louis University Hospital Pet Therapy Volunteer Program, or documentation must be provided from organizations where the animal is currently providing therapy. 

4)       Handler must follow all procedures and policies specified for Saint Louis University Hospital volunteers, including:

A)      Application

B)      Interview (including the animal)

C)      Reference check

D)      Orientation to volunteering

E)      Orientation to each department visited by the handler and animal

F)       Annual educational and PPD requirements.

G)      Sign-in and out for each visit.

H)      Display proper Saint Louis University Hospital volunteer identification badge.


Documentation must be provided showing that the handler and animal have completed an initial apprenticeship of at least 3 months at another facility, prior to being approved for service at Saint Louis University Hospital.

Animal vaccination:

A completed and signed Saint Louis University Hospital Pet Therapy Program Animal Health Assessment form must be provided annually.  Form documents the animal is current for the following vaccinations: 

1)       DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Para-Influenza, Parvo Virus, Carona Virus)

2)       Rabies

3)       Bordetella. 

Documentation must also be provided showing that the animal is following a regimen for heartworm and flea prevention.

To have your dog trained and certified as a therapy dog, contact the following organizations for information about their programs:


(Support Dogs – Touch Program)


(Humane Society of Missouri)


(Animal Protective Association)


(Delta Society)


(Therapy Dogs International)


(Therapy Dogs Inc.)


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