How We Do It
All PALS programs are provided free to the clients and facilities we serve. Currently we have three main programs: Pet Visitation Therapy Program, Story PALS and our newest program, Puppy Rooms. The Pet Visitation Therapy Program provides visits to most of the facilities mentioned above. The recipients of this program are primarily persons whose response to other forms of therapy is non-existent, or to whom pet therapy would provide an alternative to other more common forms of therapy. Clients who benefit from this program have often experienced brain injuries or strokes, Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, Autism or Asperger’s or are in palliative care.
Story PALS is collaboration with the Calgary Public Libraries where we bring dogs into select libraries for children who are having issues with reading and these children spend some one on one time with the dogs reading to them. It has proven to strengthen the children’s reading ability and increase their confidence levels significantly.
Our newest program is working with the Calgary’s universities and other post-secondary institutes by providing some stress release activities during exam times. This program is extremely popular with the students and this year we are already booked into the U of C, Bow Valley College, and St Mary’s University College and we are talking with SAIT and Mount Royal.
PALS clients are 75% senior citizens, 5% adults, and 20% children and teenagers. The need for our services continues to grow, in part due to the measurable benefits of pet therapy, but largely due to the increase in an ageing population. As the population ages and continues to move from independent housing toward some type of long term care facility the residents often are forced to downsize their personal belonging and that includes the family pet. Despite statistical facts surrounding improved mental and physical health and wellbeing with exposure to pets, at the time in their life when pets become the most important the connection is removed. PALS visits on a regular basis helps to bridge that connection again, helping to restore what was once lost.
Volunteers have always been the backbone of PALS and currently there are over 450 volunteers that assist with keeping PALS up and running. This includes approximately 275 who visit with their four-legged pals (who include dogs, cats and guinea pigs). These volunteers form 75 teams and on a pre-set schedule visit nearly 50 facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, a correctional centre, day programs, group homes, and other care facilities. Visits are up to one and a half hours long and can include both group visits and one-on-one visits.
PALS is currently funded completely by private and corporate donations and by numerous fundraising events held throughout the year.