PetPals are canine and feline volunteers (and their owners) who visit elderly residents of long-term care facilities. Begun in 2003 as a partnership with the Animal Rescue League of Boston, FriendshipWorks’ PetPals program has lifted the spirits of residents in 34 long-term care facilities in Boston and Brookline.
Numerous studies have shown that pet visitation programs increase social interaction among nursing home residents, reduce agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, and ease the pervasive loneliness that often occurs in long-term care facilities. The wagging tails of the dogs and the purring of the cats bring smiles and laughter to the faces of nursing home residents, many of whom are isolated, lonely, and depressed.
How It Works
PetPals volunteers are carefully screened for temperament and reaction to stressors by a veterinary behaviorist prior to assignment. Owners and pets are also trained on how to interact with nursing home residents to ensure the best possible experience for human and animal volunteers.
-a nursing home Director of Volunteers
Requirements for PetPals dogs:
- Be at least one year of age
- Be able to obey basic commands: “sit,” “stay,” and “heel.”
- Be on a flea and tick control program from March until November
- Have a physical exam at least 6 months before placement and a fecal examination 1 month before placement
If you are interested in becoming a FriendshipWorks PetPals volunteer, please fill out our online application or call 617-482-1510.