Hudson Valley Humane Society

Visiting Pet Program



Providing Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activity since 1994.

Frequently Asked Questions

about the

Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program



The Visiting Pet Program

Q: What do the members of your program do? 

A: Members of the Visiting Pet Program are volunteers who visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other facilities with their registered pets. The animals have permission to visit people in activity rooms and in private rooms. Most attend on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly. Volunteers who don’t have suitable pets can accompany Visiting Pet Program teams as escorts.


Animal Assisted Therapy

Q: What exactly do the pets do?

A: In most cases, our volunteers and their pets participate in Animal Assisted Activity, which means the pets are there to cheer people up by giving them physical and emotional contact with a calm, friendly animal who enjoys being petted. In some facilities, the visits are supervised by health care professionals, who document the event. Documented visits that have specific therapeutic goals are called Animal Assisted Therapy.


Our program also participates in Animal Assisted Education, mostly in schools and libraries, in which the visiting pets help people of all ages learn about animal behavior, the responsibilities of pet ownership, and related topics.


Visit Locations

Q: Where are the facilities located that you visit?

A: Most are in Rockland County, New York. A few are in Bergen County, New Jersey, and we also visit a jail (juvenile detention facility) in Orange County, New York.


Times of Visits

Q: When do the visits take place? Are they usually during the day, during the week?

A: Many of our visits take place during morning and afternoon hours on weekdays, but several facilities welcome weekend or evening visits.


Handler Teams

Q: How many pet/handler teams go on each visit?

A: That depends on the facility and the number of volunteers available. In most cases, two or three pet/handler teams work together, but sometimes a single pet/handler team makes a visit and at other times, several teams work together.


Eligible Pets

Q: Can all animals be Pet Partners?

A:  The Visiting Pet Program is open to all domestic pets, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters, plus domesticated farm animals, including goats, sheep, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, llamas, cows, horses, and donkeys. Reptiles, such as snakes and turtles, are not eligible. Neither are wild species like bears, hawks, or wild hares.  Horses have been used therapeutically for thousands of years – in fact, they were the first true therapy animals.


Dogs are by far the most popular therapy animals.


Pets are evaluated individually, and Delta Society does not discriminate against specific breeds of dog the way some national programs do.


To be appropriate for this activity, animals must be calm, quiet, friendly, and healthy. They must travel well and recover quickly from distractions. They must also enjoy being petted. All animals, including dogs, must be under their handlers’ control at all times.


Delta Society Affiliate

Q: What is Delta Society?

A: Delta Society is an international organization that fosters the human-animal bond by supporting therapy animals and service animals. Service animals include seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, and seizure-detecting dogs, and other assistance dogs. Therapy animals do not have the same privileges as service animals, but they are permitted to visit many facilities that have a “no pets” policy. Delta Society provides handler training, pet/handler screening, liability insurance, and other support for therapy pet/handler teams.


The Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program is a Delta Society affiliate. For information about Delta Society, visit Delta. Our organization sponsors Delta Society Pet Partners training workshops and evaluations.

For tips on taking the Delta evaluation, click here.


Joining HVHS Visiting Pets

Q: How can I join your program?

A: There is no fee to join our program, but you must first be a Delta Society Pet Partner.


Volunteers can participate in the Pet Partners program with or without an animal. Those who do not have an animal (or who do not have an appropriate animal) can be escorts on visits and can take part in all program activities.


Dogs and cats must be 1 year old to be registered as therapy pets, but handlers can take the Pet Partners training at any time, even before a kitten or puppy is born. Knowing what's involved in Animal Assisted Therapy helps make us better trainers.


Children as Volunteers

Q: Can children volunteer and participate in the program?

A: The Pet Partners program welcomes children age 10 to 15 if they are accompanied in all aspects of the activity (training, testing, and visits) by a parent or other responsible adult. Individuals who are age 16 and older do not require adult supervision.


Steps to become a Delta Society Pet Partner

Q: What are the requirements for joining Delta Society’s Pet Partners Program?

A: To become a member of the Delta Society and become a member of our program, follow these steps:


1) Take the Delta Society Pet Partners training class without your pet. This is usually offered as a two-day workshop from 9 AM to 5 PM or as a 6-week evening class from 7 to 9 PM.


2) Pass the Delta Pet Partners evaluation (30-minute test) with your pet. This is a separate event held after the training. Those who take a Pet Partners training class sponsored by HVHS Visiting Pets receive a discount on the evaluation fee, paying $10 per pet/handler team instead of the usual $25.


 3) Complete the Delta Society paperwork and veterinary exam and pay your registration fee.  This is good for two years and provides liability insurance and other benefits. Those who take a Pet Partners training class and evaluation sponsored by HVHS Visiting Pets receive a discount on the two-year registration fee, which is $50 (instead of the usual $75) for a volunteer with a single animal.


After completing these steps, you will have Delta Society credentials that allow you and your pet to visit facilities in your area by yourself or with other pet/handler teams.


Delta Society Pet Partners Training Workshops

Q: What will I learn in the workshop?

A: The Delta Society Pet Partners training workshop covers Animal Assisted Therapy, Animal Assisted Education, and Animal Assisted Activity. It explains how to conduct pet visits, what animals are appropriate and inappropriate for pet visits, what personality traits are desirable, how to tell if your animal would be a good visiting pet, training requirements, liability issues, equipment, how to prepare yourself and your pet for a visit, how to do a site assessment to determine whether a facility is appropriate for your animal, how to contact and work with facility staff, how to schedule visits, benefits of working by yourself, benefits of working with a group, types of facilities, record keeping, safety issues, handling skills, how to prepare for the Delta evaluation, what Delta Society registration means and how it works, identifying signs of stress in your pet, how to support your pet on visits, how to work with different populations, health issues, and other important information.


When children age 10 to 15 take the training workshop with an accompanying adult, a single registration fee is paid.


Dog Training

Q: What training should I do with my dog or other pet?

A: We refer dog owners to trainers for assistance in preparing for this work and for the evaluation. Any trainer with therapy dog experience will be helpful. The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, which is a basic obedience test, is excellent preparation for the Delta Pet Partners evaluation. 


Our Delta Society Pet Partners evaluators, Kay Scott and Diane Anderson, often teach a Delta evaluation preparation seminar for dogs and handlers prior to the evaluation for those who want to practice. The prerequisite for taking this class is attending a Delta Society Pet Partners training workshop.


Delta Society Evaluation

Q: When is the next evaluation?

A: Our Delta Society Pet Partners evaluations are posted on our website, please see this link for upcoming training and evaluation dates. Evaluations are by appointment. The prerequisite is the training workshop described above. Those who take one of our training workshops pay only $10 per pet/handler team evaluation vs. the regular fee of $25.00


Delta Society Pet Partners Membership

Q: What does Delta membership include and how long does it last?

A: The Pet Partners program membership lasts for two years, during which it provides liability insurance and other benefits for registered pet/handler teams. Before the two-year membership expires, pet/handler teams are expected to take the Delta Society Pet Partners evaluation to renew their membership. This means that all Pet Partner teams are evaluated at least every two years.


Because the Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program is a Delta Society affiliate, those joining the Pet Partners program after taking a workshop and evaluation sponsored by HVHS Visiting Pets receive a discount in their two-year registration fee.


Local Organizations

Q: Can my dog and I make visits by ourselves as Delta Pet Partners, or do we have to join a local organization?

A: You can make visits on your own. In the Pet Partners training workshop, you will learn how to contact facility staff, organize visits, and do this volunteer work on your own.


Joining a local group of pet/handler teams provides certain advantages. You can make visits with other people and their pets instead of going by yourself, you can get additional training and support from the local group, and the local group offers a variety of possible places to visit, all of which are safe and appropriate for pet visits.


Steps to joining the HVHS Visiting Pets Program

Q: How can I join the Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program?

A: To join HVHS Visiting Pets:


1) Take the Delta Society Pet Partners training class, described above, without your pet.


2) Take the Delta Society Pet Partners evaluation with your pet.


3) Complete the necessary Delta paperwork which you will receive in the training class or can find on line, take your pet for a veterinary exam, and pay your two-year Pet Partner dues.


4) Go on an observation visit without your pet to any facility with members of our program. We invite newcomers to go on observation visits so they can see different kinds of facilities and also watch this activity up close. The observation visit can be taken at any time, such as before signing up for the Pet Partners workshop.


5) Attend a Safe-Handling Workshop sponsored by HVHS Visiting Pets for additional handling skills. This workshop is open to all who complete the Pet Partners evaluation. There is no specific fee charged for this workshop, but donations are gratefully accepted.


In addition, the Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program offers training workshops, meetings, supervision for new members, holiday parties, additional liability insurance, and other benefits, including a long list of prescreened facilities that welcome pet visits during the day on weekdays, during evening hours, and on weekends.


R.E.A.D. Program

Q: What is the R.E.A.D.®  Program?

A: HVHS Visiting Pets is a registered R.E.A.D. Affiliate program with a licensed instructor. R.E.A.D. stands for Reading Education Assistance Dogs® founded by Intermountain Therapy Animals in Utah in 1999. R.E.A.D. has over 1,400 registered teams who visit schools and libraries to help improve the reading skills of children primarily in grades K-4. Visits to libraries are considered Animal Assisted Activity while visits in the school setting are Animal Assisted Therapy and include working with children on a regular basis and tracking their reading progress. Our group offers R.E.A.D. training workshops several times a year for therapy teams, reading specialists, librarians and teachers who wish to learn more about the program. For upcoming dates and registration forms, see our event page on this website. Members of HVHS Visiting Pet Program receive discounted rates on R.E.A.D. training as well as on the lifetime R.E.A.D. registration fee.


For more information about the READ Program, visit Intermountain Therapy Animals. 


If you still have questions, please e-mail us at or call 845-429-9507.


You can also sign up for our mailing list by sending an e-mail to with the subject line "Add Me" and we will keep you apprised of upcoming classes and evaluations.