50,136
pets' lives saved since becoming no-kill in
January 2002

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Richmond SPCA

Robins-Starr
Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220
804-521-1300

Adoption Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Lora Robins Gift Shop Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donation Drop Off Hours
Mon. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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PAWS FOR HEALTH: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Quick links:
What is Paws for Health™?
How did Paws for Health™ become a program of the Richmond SPCA?

What are the Requirements to participate in the Paws for Health™ Program?
How do my dog and I join Paws for Health™?
What are some of the opportunities my dog and I will have as a Therapy Dog team?

I don’t know if my dog is ready to take the required test. How can I prepare him for a future as a Therapy Dog?

What is Paws for Health™ ?

Paws for Health™ is the pet visitation program of the Richmond SPCA. Our wonderful volunteers and their carefully screened pets visit local hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities in the Richmond area — and have been doing so for over a decade. Participating facilities have included Imperial Plaza, Manor Care at Stratford Hall, Ronald McDonald House, Lynmoore Retirement Community, Ginter Hall South, Spring Arbor, Salisbury, Lakewood Mannor, and St. Joseph - Little Sisters of the Poor, among others.

How did Paws for Health™ become a program of the Richmond SPCA?

Paws for Health™ was created by Dr. Kevin Connelly, former Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at MCV, who formed an alliance with the Richmond SPCA beginning in 1999. In developing the program he spent a year reviewing research, learning about other pet therapy programs, and creating strict guidelines for safety, health maintenance and risk reduction to exceed hospital standards.

What are the Requirements to participate in the Paws for Health™ Program?

  • Dogs must be at least 1 year of age.
  • All sizes and breeds are accepted.
  • Dogs must be spayed or neutered.
  • Handlers must be at least 16 years of age (younger children may accompany an adult who is a Paws for Health™ member, if they are of suitable maturity level and approved by the facility where visits are to be scheduled).

How do my dog and I join Paws for Health™

FIRST: Dogs and handlers applying to the program must pass one of the following options:

  • Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Test)

Or

  • First: Canine Good Citizen (This evaluation can take place anywhere the CGC test is offered)
  • Then: Alliance of Therapy Dogs (www.therapydogs.com)

Or

  • First: Canine Good Citizen
  • Then: Paws for Health™ (www.richmondspca.org/pawsforhealth 

SECOND: Individuals interested in joining Richmond SPCA’s Paws for Health™ , meeting the above criteria, fill out an application and register with Paws for Health.  

THIRD: Handlers will be asked to make at least one Paws for Health™ visit without their dog, so that they can shadow an existing team and see how a pet visitation will “look.” This is a great opportunity to ask questions and become familiar with the pet visitation process. Handlers are welcome to do this more than once if they would like.

FOURTH: Handlers and dogs will make at least one Paws for Health™ visit during which they will be shadowed and observed by a team leader or other Paws for Health™ designated observer. This “observer” will provide guidance and feedback during the visit and will be asked to report on how the new team performed.

FIFTH: After successfully completing the two “shadow” visits, individuals can celebrate wildly.

  • Dogs will be measured for and receive their Paws for Health™ capes
  • Note that dogs and handlers are expected to make at least 3 visits in any given 6 month period in order to stay “active.” Dogs and handlers who become “inactive” for more than 6 months may need to be reevaluated.

What are some of the opportunities my dog and I will have as a Therapy Dog team?

  • Regularly scheduled visits at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the Richmond area
  • Opportunities (and requests) for many more such visits
  • Flexibility to allow individual and/or group visits
  • Group events (fashion shows, trick performances, etc.)
  • Children’s holiday events at the Richmond SPCA 
  • Mommy & Me & Daddy Too (monthly themed events at Willow Lawn)
  • Humane education tours/visits at the Richmond SPCA or at schools/libraries
  • Richmond SPCA Tricksters: This is a wonderful group of handlers and dogs who like to perform tricks and can entertain audiences of all ages/sizes. Paws for Health dogs are welcome to also join this group (no annual fee) and/or it may be a great option for dogs who prefer performing to actually doing therapy work.

I don’t know if my dog is ready to take the required test. How can I prepare him for a future as a Therapy Dog?

It’s all about Education and Training! These classes are great training to get you and your dog ready for evaluation, to improve your training skills, or just to have fun! Here are just some of the options offered by the Richmond SPCA!

Canine Manners

  • Offered year-round at the Richmond SPCA
  • Instructor will teach SIT, DOWN, COME, STAY, LEAVE IT, leash walking, impulse control
  • 7-week class (1st class for humans only)
  • Fee is $140
  • Register here: www.richmondspca.org/classes
  • Questions? Contact Gail Bird Necklace at 804-521-1332 or gbirdnecklace@richmondspca.org.

Tricks Classes

  • Offered periodically at the Richmond SPCA
  • Instructor will teach many tricks and performance skills (many great for therapy visits)
  • 7-week class 
  • Fee is $140
  • This class is currently offered at a discount for active Paws for HealthTM volunteers.
  • Register here: www.richmondspca.org/classes
  • Questions? Contact Gail Bird Necklace at 804-521-1332 or gbirdnecklace@richmondspca.org.