Can a therapy dog visit my relative?

Visiting in an assisted living home

Therapy animals are owned by private individuals who share their animals as volunteers. Most have regular times they visit certain facilities, and are not accustomed to filling special requests.

That said, it doesn't hurt to ask. However, whether your relative is at home or in facility is an important factor to consider.

At Home:  Most therapy animal teams do not make visits to private homes out of concern for both their safety and liability. If they are registered with an organization like Pet Partners, in-home visits are generally not permitted and a team would not be covered by Pet Partners' insurance should they make such a visit.

The exception to this rule is when the person to be visited is receiving in-home care from a health care organization. In such a case an in-home visit may be possible, but only during a time when a representative of the health care organization is present.

Also consider that if the representative is only making short visits, they will not likely have time to step aside for a therapy animal visit.

In a Facility:  If your relative is in a facility, the facility may already be facilitating therapy animal visits and will be happy to schedule one for your relative. If not, they may or may not allow a registered therapy animal team to visit.

Often, especially under special circumstances, a facility will allow a family to bring a pet from home for a visit. For example, a hospital might allow a patient's dog to visit if they are extremely ill or have been hospitalized for a very long time. In permitting such a visit, the facility will likely ask to see vaccination records.

Who to Contact:  If your relative is in a facility, start by speaking with the facility. If you find you need to contact a local therapy animal organization, you can search the web for an organization in your area.