Hudson Valley Humane Society

Visiting Pet Program

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Do you have a calm, friendly dog, cat, bird, rabbit or other pet? Are you interested in making visits to local nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and other facilities?

If so, give us a call at 845-267-8795 or e-mail us at




Who we are and what we do.

 The Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program operates as an affiliate program of Delta Society, an international organization established in 1977 in Portland, Oregon. Now headquartered in Washington State, Delta Society, through its Pet Partners Program, trains and screens volunteers and their pets for animal-assisted programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation  centers, schools and other facilities. The Delta Pet Partners Program ensures that ‘both ends of the leash,’ people as well as animals, are well prepared to participate in animal-assisted  activity and animal-assisted therapy. The Delta Society is the only national registry that requires volunteer handler training AND evaluation of handler and animal teams. Additionally, Delta Society provides liability insurance for those who complete the handler training,  successfully pass the team evaluation, and register with the organization. Over 6,400 Delta Pet Partner teams now operate in all 50 states and five countries, helping nearly a million people each year.




A hand reaches out, a wagging tail approaches, and an elderly face breaks into a smile. It's a scene that's increasingly common in Rockland and Bergen Counties, thanks to volunteers from the Hudson Valley Humane Society's Visiting Pet Program. Activity directors and health care professionals report that visiting pets reach nursing home residents, hospital patients, retirement home residents and adult day care participants in ways that other therapeutic activities can't.


The contact may be brief, but it brightens the entire day or week, especially for those who have had pets in the past. In some cases, an animal's visit is transforming. Shy, withdrawn, or depressed people find themselves in animated conversation, angry people relax, and those with memory lapses share detailed recollections of pets they lived with years before. Visiting pets have reached autistic children, stroke victims, Alzeimer's patients, and other "unreachables." Even when nothing dramatic happens, pet visits are important changes of pace for facility residents, bringing excitment, affection, comfort, physical contact and joy.


In addition, to providing companionship (called Animal Assisted Activity), visiting pets sometimes particpate in a facility's therapy program. In Animal Assisted Therapy, a dog might stand while a patient brushes him order to excercise specific arm muscles, or a cat might visit a depressed patient to encourage convesation, or someone in speech therapy might give commands to a dog that does tricks or retrieves objects. Anyone who loves animals is likely to work harder and feel more motivated when one is part of the therapy team.


Cats, birds, rabbits, and a hamster have been registered members, but most of our visitng pets are dogs. We welcome all breeds and sizes. Before pets and their owners or handlers are accpted as volunteers, they go through training and testing. In addtion to a veterinary exam showing that an animal is in excellent health and well groomed, the pet is evaluated for temperament, disposition, and personality, Visiting pets should be friendly, fond of people, calm and comfortable in new situations. Dogs and their handlers are also tested for basic obedience. We cannot accept animals that are aggressive toward people or other animals, dogs that jump or bark, or animals that are not under their handler's control.


Our program satisfies community service requirements for scouting, high school and other service programs.


Volunteers without pets are welcome too. We need escorts to accompany visiting pet teams, show photographs, chat with residents, carry coats, open doors, and help make visits more rewarding. When a single animal visits a group, escorts help everyone participate even though only one person at a time is petting the animal.


We welcome financial donations through our "Sponsor a Therapy Pet" program at the address below. Please write or call for information.


It is a joy to see frowns turn into smiles and to see sad or depressed people laugh and old out their hands in greeting when they see our visting pets. Pet therapy is one of the most exciting rewarding and effective volunteer programs in America. Please join us!



HVHS Visiting Pet Partner Daphne, owned by Susan Dickens, is featured on the Cover of Interactions magazine, the Delta Society monthly publication, after 9/11 when teams from the Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pet Program spent time with family members in New York City helping with the healing process.


Virginia Montoya and her pet partner Sam pay a visit to a Scout troup.


Susan poses with Sam and Daphne. Both Daphne and Sam have gone to the rainbow bridge.







Delta Society

Click here to open a PDF file with more info about the Delta Society Pet Partners® Overview








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