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Healing Paws Pet Therapy Program

Anderson’s Healing Paws Program is a volunteer-based animal assisted therapy group, providing positive pet experiences to children and adults throughout our community.


Healing Paws Volunteers and their pet partners visit schools, libraries, hospitals, social service agencies and local businesses.

The benefits of therapy visits

Studies show that positive interactions with a friendly companion animal can help improve health in a wide variety of ways, including:

• lowered blood pressure

• decreased anxiety and depression

• lowered risk of heart disease

• prevention of allergies in children

• reduced stress levels

• strengthened immune systems

• increased social interaction • improved cardiovascular health

• diminished overall physical pain

Healing Paws Therapy Pets

Therapy pets in our program include dogs, cats and other friendly companion animals such as birds, guinea pigs and rabbits.


  • Therapy pets must be at least one year old and do not need to have been adopted from Anderson. 

  • Part of the evaluation test will assess your pet’s temperament. Will they accept a friendly stranger? Will they tolerate gentle tugging on their ears and tail? How will they react to a restraining hug or clumsy petting? Will they submit to an overall exam, including checking teeth, ears and touching the feet?

  • Dogs entering the program must have basic obedience training — either in a formal class or on your own.

  • Dogs will also be tested for their reactions to a stranger walking by, loud voices, crowded petting and will be required to walk through a crowd while remaining calm.

  • They will need to demonstrate their ability to walk on a loose lead, sit on command, come when called and be able to encounter a neutral dog without barking, lunging, or showing aggression.

Healing Paws Handlers

  • Handlers must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Handlers must be outgoing and comfortable interacting with a wide variety of individuals.

  • All handlers must be able to maintain control of their pet at all times.

  • Adverse training methods using force, fear, or intimidation is strictly prohibited, as is the use of choke, prong, pinch and shock collars. Harnesses, martingale collars and Gentle Leaders are acceptable

Get started

  1. Send an email to healingpaws@ahconnects.org to schedule your pet’s evaluation.

  2. Upon passing the evaluation, you and your pet will be certified and insured through Anderson Animal Shelter.

  3. Next you will need to fill out an Anderson Animal Shelter volunteer application and attend a volunteer orientation.

  4. Provide proof of rabies (for dogs and cats), as well a yearly wellness exam and fecal test.

  5. You and your pet are now ready to start healing our community! Anderson will provide you with a list of locations.