PALS Pet Therapy

Pets And Love Shared: Animal-Assisted Activities and Animal-Assisted Therapy 

At this time, we are not accepting new applicants to the PALS program. Please read PALS information below and check our website for updates. If you have questions, please email pals@eastbayspca.org for more information.

PALS is a program that provides training and preparation to animal-human teams wanting to bring love and healing to those in need. The East Bay SPCA has teams of companion animals and handlers that visit a variety of facilities throughout Alameda County. PALS teams are also utilized to teach children safety around animals through some of our Humane Education programs.

Studies have shown that interaction with a pet can increase a person’s health by lowering their blood pressure and heart rate, and improving their overall well being. At the East Bay SPCA we envision a community where people and animals enrich each other’s lives, and human relationships with companion animals bring us to a deeper understanding and appreciation for all of creation and of ourselves. The PALS program is just one of our programs that allows us to do just that.

If you are a facility interested in receiving PALS visits please fill out the first page of our
facility application.

If you think that your companion animal would enjoy visiting others and you are looking for a way to give back to your community please read below for information on how to join our team!

• All dogs wishing to join the PALS team must first pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. This is a standard test which assesses basic manners and obedience skills.

• After passing the CGC test, all animals and their handlers will set up an individual evaluation with the PALS coordinator at one of our shelters. Please fill out this form to set up your evaluation.

• All teams who are a good fit for the program will attend a three hour workshop at one of our facilities. The workshop will help to prepare both the handler and the animal for their future as a visiting team.

• Lastly, find a facility! While we have many facilities waiting for teams to visit them, we are always open to visiting new facilities.

Additional PALS team qualifications and requirements listed below.

  • All animals must be at least one year of age to be accepted into the program.
  • All animals must have been in the care of the handler for a minimum of six months prior to the beginning of class.
  • All animals must be current on their vaccinations, spayed or neutered, and able to pass a health evaluation.
  • All handlers must be 18 years of age. (Children may accompany an adult on visits, if permission is granted from the facility.)
  • All animals must pass a skills and manners evaluation.
  • Cats must be harness-trained to be accepted into the PALS program.
  • For dogs, Canine Good Citizen certification (awarded within the past 2 years) is required to enroll in the PALS class.
  • The PALS evaluation will include, but not be limited to the following**:
    • Comfort level around medical equipment such as wheel chairs, IV stands, walkers, canes, etc.
    • Ability to properly greet a variety of people with a calm confident manner, and without over exuberance or fear. This includes people in costumes, strange clothes, hats and with a variety of postures and demeanors.
    • All dogs should be able to follow the command "leave it" even when tempted by foods, medications, etc. at a variety of heights and locations.
    • Being receptive and comfortable with handling by strangers, including rough, or odd handling and sudden movements.
    • Exhibiting appropriate behavior around children of all ages and energy levels.
    • All dogs must be non-reactive to other dogs. Handler must exhibit control and be able to manage their dog around other dogs. Dogs should be able to exhibit a proper nose to nose greet.
    • All dogs should be tolerant of and manageable around cats.
    • Dogs should not offer a paw with out being asked.
    • All dogs and cats must be comfortable wearing a vest as a form of identification showing that they are a member of the PALS team.

**All of the behaviors will be reviewed in the evaluation and in the workshop. Dogs are expected to meet the behavior requirements upon completion of the workshop. Dogs must be worked in a flat collar or harness during the PALS evaluation. Only flat collars or harnesses may be used when on visits. Exceptions may be made for some dogs to wear head collars on visits if pre-approved by the PALS evaluator.

For questions or more information please e-mail pals@eastbayspca.org.

Maddies Fund  

East Bay SPCA is a member of Maddie’s® Treatable Assistance Program