Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program
Applicants who would like to volunteer at the King of Prussia Hospital must have verifiable experience volunteering with their dog in a hospital setting, as well as the availability to visit the hospital on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program originated from the belief that dogs offer a therapeutic value to children that human family members and hospital staff cannot give.
This program gives children the opportunity to interact safely with the dogs and receive their unconditional love and acceptance in the hopes of making the hospital environment more comfortable and less stressful.
Our program involves trained volunteers and their dogs who visit the children at CHOP. Additional benefits of pet therapy are:
- Positive experiences that help minimize the stress of the hospital environment
- Support of the overall social, physical and emotional development of the child
- Increased normalization of the hospital experience by making it more "home-like"
Pet therapy volunteer requirements
Because we are a healthcare organization, there are some requirements you must fulfill before you can volunteer at the Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program at CHOP. For the safety of our patients, their families, and for you, we ask all potential volunteers be able to commit to the following:
Age. To become a pet therapy volunteer, you must be 18 years or older, and your dog must be between 1 and 10 years of age.
Registration. We require that all therapy dogs and handlers have a current registration with Pet Partners, Therapy Dogs International, Alliance of Therapy Dogs, or Comfort Caring Canines. If your dog is not a registered therapy dog with one of these groups, there are links and contact information for them at the bottom of this page.
Time Commitment. We ask pet therapy volunteers to commit to a minimum of one two-hour shift per month.
Interview and Screening. We conduct an in-person interview, without your dog, with all applicants. All dogs must be medically and behaviorally screened through The Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania at no charge to the owner. A portion of the cost of animal healthcare is underwritten by The Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania.
For the safety of our patients and families, we require all volunteers to meet the health requirements and background checks listed below. We offer no exemptions.
Required Health Clearances for Volunteers
CHOP Volunteer Services will provide applicants with instructions and will cover costs associated with these clearances through CHOP’s Occupational Health Office.
- COVID-19 vaccination
- Flu vaccination during flu season (September-April)
- Proof of immunity (vaccination, immunization record, or titer bloodwork)
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (Chicken Pox)
- Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis)
- TB screening
Required Health Clearances for Therapy Dogs
- All dog volunteers are required to have current vaccinations and rabies boosters.
- Dog cannot be on a raw foods diet at any time during their participation in the program. Raw food diets present an increased risk of pathologic bacterial and protozoal shedding and infection that can compromise the health of our patients.
- Veterinarian records must be updated twice a year (once a year at VHUP and once a year at your personal vet).
- If your dog spends any time in a kennel or becomes ill, a fecal sample needs to be cleared through VHUP (the appropriate collection container will be provided).
- Dogs must be washed within 24 hours of the visit and dry upon entering the hospital (please refrain from using any flea and tick topical 2 days prior to visit).
CHOP Volunteer Services will provide applicants with instructions and will cover costs associated with these background checks through our vendor, Sterling. These background checks must be completed through our background check vendor, Sterling.
To be considered for the volunteer program applicants will need to complete the required Pennsylvania background checks to volunteer with children. These clearances include, but are not limited to, the following:
- PA Child Abuse History Clearance
- PA State Police Criminal Clearance
- FBI Fingerprinting Clearance
Orientation and Training. Once volunteer teams are cleared, they will also be required to attend a two hour Unit/Patient Care Orientation. Volunteers will be escorted on their first three visits by the program coordinator, and may also be asked to complete additional training as required.
Restrictions. Volunteers must abide by all patient confidentiality guidelines, customer service expectations and hospital policies. Dog must be on a leash (except with obedience exercises which must be previously approved), not pushed in any type of stroller, or transported in any type of carrier. Dogs with missing or paralyzed limbs may utilize a doggie wheelchair. For identification purposes, your dog must wear a CHOP bandana (provided to you) at all times while in the hospital.
Accepted therapy dog registries
Therapy Dogs International
88 Bartly Road
Flanders, NJ 07836
875 124th Ave NE, Suite 101
Bellevue, WA 98005
Alliance of Therapy Dogs
P.O. Box 20227
Cheyenne WY 82003
Comfort Caring Canines
8135 Lare Street
Philadelphia, PA 19128