SPCA New Zealand

Volunteer positions

Therapy Pet Volunteer
Dunedin Centre

Therapy Pet Volunteer

The Dog Squad is a group of volunteers who visit hospitals, rest homes, and universities in Dunedin City area with their own dogs.

If you have a well socialised and lovable dog and would like to help out in the community, then we’d love to hear from you! The animals accepted onto the team are all been assessed for appropriate behaviour in unfamiliar situations, basic obedience and health.

​What we expect from our volunteers:

  • The minimum age for joining the team is 18 years of age and animals must be between 12 months and 10 years.
  • To join the team you MUST have your own animal – it is not appropriate to use an animal belonging to a friend or family member.
  • Volunteers need to commit to two visits a month for 12 months.
  • Volunteers to have an excellent working relationship with their animal and are able to keep them safe, supervised and under control.
  • Volunteers are responsible for ensuring their animal’s needs and welfare are being met at all times.

​What we expect from our therapy animals:

Therapy animals must be:

  • Highly sociable with all types of people.
  • Confident and calm around people that may act differently to their owners.
  • At ease in new, unfamiliar environments.
  • Dogs must be obedient, with exceptional control and focus in new environments with lots of distractions.
  • Dogs should be able to walk calmly on a loose lead and perform sit, down, stay and recall reliably in an unfamiliar environment with distractions.
  • Clean and well-groomed prior to visits.
  • Dogs must be spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated, microchipped and registered with their local council.
  • Animals must be assessed by a veterinarian as in good health. Animals with chronic conditions that are painful and/or affect mobility will not be considered for therapy work.

Animals that show signs of fearfulness or aggression during the behavioural assessment will not be accepted into the programme

​What happens after you submit your application?

  • We will review your application and send you a veterinarian health check form which must be completed by your animals Veterinarian prior to your animal assessment. If these indicate that your animal may enjoy and be suited to therapy work, you will be invited to attend an assessment session. You will need to complete a consent to disclose form for police vetting and bring in two forms of ID. We ask for this to ensure optimal safety for our clients, patients, volunteers and animals.
  • We sit down with you and your dog for a short face-to-face interview.
  • We meet with you and your animal to do an assessment of the animal. The assessments we conduct for dog’s look at aggression, fearfulness, responding to a therapy environment, obedience and health.
  • If you are both accepted, you will return for an orientation workshop, and we can discuss an establishment for you to visit and arrange a support person to visit with you.

Both the assessments and workshops will be held at the SPCA Dunedin Centre in Opoho. On the day, prospective volunteers are asked to bring their dog on a flat lead (not a check chain or a retractable lead). We recommend that you also bring a water bowl

How to apply

Please read the job description carefully as it outlines our clear expectations for Therapy Pet volunteers in terms of time commitment and communication required for this programme. You will need to fill out the online application form below which will be emailed to us.

All animals must be seen by a vet prior to being accepted into Therapy Pets. At the time of application we will send you a ‘Veterinarian health form’ to be completed prior to your first Therapy Pet visit.

If you think your dog could bring real value to the lives of those in rest homes, hospitals and universities, we would love to have you on board! If you are able to commit to what this amazing programme needs, submit an application now.

If you have any questions, please contact us on Dunedin.volunteer@spca.nz

Apply now
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