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Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates, visitor restrictions and resources →
Now offering telemedicine through our Virtual Visit online program for primary care and specialty care visits → Virtual Visit appointments are available for new and existing UF Health patients. Check the FAQ section and Request an Appointment section below for more information.

Call (904) 383-1052 to make an appointment or call your physician’s office if you have questions specific to your health needs.

Volunteer Opportunities: Dog Therapy

UF Health Jacksonville's dog therapy program ensures a positive experience for patients, visitors and staff. Our policy allows registered therapy animal teams that meet certain requirements to visit patients. If you are not already registered with your dog, you may learn about the process below.

General Information

"Four legged volunteers work their magic to improve the emotional health of patients, residents, students, and staff!"

Sharing the love your pet is probably the best volunteer "job" ever! The importance of the human-animal bond has been documented for many centuries. But over the last few decades scientific research has revealed that interacting with a friendly animal can provide many physiological and psychological benefits.

Physiological benefits:

  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Releases endorphins (oxytocin) that reduce pain and have calming effect
  • Lifts spirits and reduces depression
  • Encourages communication and socialization
  • Provides comfort
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Reduces boredom

Training

A great way to know if your dog is ready is to take a Canine Good Citizen test. This is an excellent way to prepare for doing dog therapy and is one of the requirements for our program.

Registration

Also, a requirement for our program is registration with a certified organization. This is an important step! Becoming registered by a national therapy animal registering organization demonstrates that you and your pet have been trained, screened and evaluated for therapy work. Registration also provides you with liability insurance, which protects you and the facility while you are volunteering.

Two therapy animal registering organizations have a presence in Northeast Florida, Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) and Pet Partners.

ATD and Pet Partners differ in training, cost, testing requirements and membership renewal. We recommend that you research them both and then pick the one that you think will be the best fit for you and your dog.

There is a comparison chart that shows the main differences between the two organizations. Please click on each link below for more details about the registration process for each organization.

Registered dogs must have verification from a veterinarian of their inoculations and temperament. Once accepted into the program, the handler will go through a volunteer orientation through our volunteer services department. The therapy dogs are recognized by their UF Health Jacksonville badges. If you are interested in the dog therapy program, please print and fill out the following forms in addition to the standard volunteer application.