PHS Logo
About Us Services and Programs Adopt Volunteer Events Donate Wildlife


Children Helping Animals

Foster Care

Internship Program

Junior Volunteer Positions

Orientation Dates

Pet Assisted Therapy

PHS/SPCA Auxiliary

Seasonal Volunteer Positions

Volunteer Express

Volunteer of the Year

Volunteer Positions

My Volunteer Page



2007 Excellence in Nonprofit Volunteer Management

2008 Volunteer Choice Award

2011 Volunteer Choice Award

Awarded by the Volunteer Center of San Francisco & San Mateo Counties

2014 Service Enterprise Certification

California Volunteers Service Enterprise Initiative

Pet Assisted Therapy

Donate Online Now! shop at the shelter

Bookmark and Share

Pet assisted therapy dog visits with a senior.

Our Pet Assisted Therapy teams are made up of local residents who work in pairs, with their pets, to visit healthcare facilities, drug rehab centers and correctional facilities. Pets in these teams offer the unique kind of therapy only an animal can provide.  Visiting with animals helps people feel less lonely, depressed or anxious while relieving stress and encouraging a general feeling of wellbeing.  Paws for Tales our Reading to Dogs program, helps children who have a difficult time reading out loud become more confident and self-assured readers.  Only the most social, engaging animals and their companions become Pet Assisted Therapy teams at PHS/SPCA. For team photos go here.  

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important consideration is that your dog has a good temperament.  A good therapy dog must be gentle, friendly, obedient, patient, confident and at ease in all situations. An ideal therapy handler prioritizes the safety and health of their pet, is reliable, and enjoys interacting with new people. Cats that are not overly stimulated and gentle are also good candidates for the program along with rabbits and guinea pigs. 

To be considered for the Pet Assisted Therapy program your animal must:

1.      Enjoy interacting with people and being touched.
2.      Show confidence in new environments.
3.      Remain calm around other animals.
4.      Have been your companion for at least six (6) months.
5.      Be a minimum of one (1) year old. 

Obedience Training and Evaluations
PHS/SPCA offers obedience training and the Canine Good Citizen training and behavior evaluation (CGC) several times a year.   As a prerequisite to the CGC, a dog must have already completed a beginner obedience training class.   The animal must also pass a temperament evaluation that measures the animal’s natural or instinctive behavior.   For information on the CGC go here.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Where We Visit
PHS/SPCA Pet Assisted Therapy program works with facilities throughout San Mateo County.    We are always looking for more sites that need our special type of therapy, but we do not make home visits. To get started, please submit our Facility Request Form.   We will notify you upon receipt and give you the next steps.If you're interested in joining our therapy program please contact Marivic Dizon, PhD at 650-340-7022 x357 or at

Please note that therapy animals are not legally defined as "service" or "assistance" animals. Service animals are working dogs trained to perform specific tasks relating to their owner’s disability. If you are interested in your animal being designated an assistance animal, please contact San Mateo County at

Paws for Tales

A Paws for Tales therapy dog listens to a young student read

Paws for Tales is our reading to dogs program where therapy dogs and their handlers work with children (ages 5 and up) in library and school settings.   Studies show that children who are reluctant to read in front of peers because of their skills are much less anxious with an animal present.  Dogs offer unconditional love: they are not intimidating or judgmental.  They are the perfect reading companion! Paws for Tales Schedule

Pet Assisted Therapy in the news...

We are always happy to share wonderful news items highlighting our good work. Please check out our most recent media coverage in the Half Moon Bay Patch, Pets Around the Bay segment, articles in Sports Illustrated, Parade Magazine and CBS News.


Our Pet Assisted Therapy program is proud to partner with Riley’s Place, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children on the San Francisco Peninsula experiencing chronic or life threatening health problems and/or challenging family situations such as homelessness. Our combined programs will encourage and facilitate children’s interactions with animals, allowing them to experience the joy and healing from spending time with animals. 



Home | About Us | Our Services | Adopt an Animal | Volunteer | Events
Resource Library | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Contact Us

Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion
Adoptions | Education | Wildlife | Administration
1450 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone 650.340.7022 Fax 650.685.8428

Coyote Point Shelter
Lost/Found | Animal Intake | Spay/Neuter | Animal Control
12 Airport Boulevard, San Mateo, CA 94401
Phone 650.340.7022 Fax 650.348.7891