Dog temperament testing March 17 for OSF Animal Assisted Therapy

Staff Report

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, 5666 E. State St., Rockford, is recruiting social, well-mannered, predictable dogs for its Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program.

AAT uses highly-trained animals and handlers to help patients achieve specific physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals. Therapy dogs and their owners visit the hospital and bring comfort to patients, reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure, and increasing patient social interaction and communication.

Temperament testing to determine if canine candidates meet the specific requirements of the program will be held by appointment only from 8 to 10 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

There is a $20 fee for testing; the fee is refunded if the dog does not pass. Dogs that pass temperament testing must attend a mandatory training program Friday-Sunday, May 3-5, through Dog Builders and Paws 4 Therapy. Dogs that successfully complete the program will be registered with a therapy dog organization.

Requirements for therapy dogs include the following:

• Must be at least 1 year old;

• Demonstrate proficiency in basic obedience;

• Be up to date on inoculations (including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, par influenza, Bordetella and corona virus);

• Must have lived with handlers for a minimum of six months;

• Must be clean with no signs of fleas, ticks or dermatitis; and

• Have proof of annual heartworm test.

Once admitted to the program, dogs need to be on flea protection year-round. Dogs with allergies will not be permitted in the program. Dog handlers must be at least 18 years old, be dependable and prompt, and have good communication skills.

For more information or to sign up for temperament testing, contact Theresa Geraci, BSN, RN, at (815) 227-2500. Applications are available at

Posted March 13, 2013

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