The Pet Hug Pack began making visits in August 2002. As of December 2013, the Pet Hug Pack has grown to more than 165 handlers and qualified pets making 350 visits each month to 74 facilities, schools and libraries in Contra Costa County, California. The team also participates in education and community events at ARF and in the surrounding area. Photographs of ARF's dedicated Pet Hug Pack team members are available here.
Studies show interaction with companion animals lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and otherwise improves oneâ€™s physical and mental health. In addition, research demonstrates many people who are emotionally â€śclosed downâ€ť or unresponsive will often open up in remarkable ways when they are petting a cat or dog.
ARFâ€™s Pet Hug Pack teams visit hospitals, rehab centers, schools and adult day care facilities throughout Contra Costa county. Pack pets have been tested to ensure they are well-mannered, healthy and possess good temperament. The teams provide unconditional love to the people they visit. There are proven health benefits to animal interaction which recipients enjoy by petting or holding an animal team member.
Each visit allows time for 30-60 minutes of casual animal interaction.
All Ears ReadingÂ®
Participate in ARFâ€™s All Ears ReadingÂ® program in local libraries and schools.
Got the teaching bug? You and your pet can assist in humane education classes at ARF and in local schools. Opportunities include attending after-school programs, hosting obedience demonstrations, attending child birthday parties at ARF, visiting Camp ARF during the summer and more!
Help spread the word about ARFâ€™s life-saving mission and programs. Pet Hug Pack members accompany the mobile adoption van to community events and locations to promote ARF, greet the public and possibly recruit new Pet Hug Pack members. ARFâ€™s Intro to Greeter/Community Outreach Volunteer Training. is recommended.
Humane Emergency Action Response Team (HEART)
ARF certified dogs and cats are on call to help schools get students
through difficult emotional emergencies. Working with school counselors, educators and administrators ARF arranges
for teams of humane educators and trained companion animals to facilitate
This service is free of charge. For more information about this program,
please contact us at 925.296.3176 or PetHugPack@arf.net.
Frequently asked questions:
Interested in becoming a Pet Hug Pack volunteer?
Please note: New Pet Hug Pack evaluations will resume in August 2014.
- Please read the document How to Become a Pet Hug Pack (PHP) Volunteer. This document outlines requirements for you and your pet.
- Attend an ARF Volunteer Information Session
Pet Hug Pack members are first and foremost, ARF volunteers. Members of the pubic will view you as a representative of the organization and will expect you to be knowledgeable of ARFâ€™s programs. This 2 hour orientation will provide you with an overview of ARFâ€™s history, mission, goals, and programs. Please use the link to register for an upcoming orientation.
- Send in an Application
Please print the attached Pet Hug Pack application and mail it to:
Tony La Russaâ€™s ARF
Attention: Pet Hug Pack Coordinator
P.O. Box 30215
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
- Medical Requirements
- Spay/Neuter - In keeping with ARFâ€™s mission and belief that overpopulation is a key factor in our homeless animal problem, PHP animals must be spayed or neutered prior to assessment.
- Vaccinations - A vaccination certificate must be provided to ARF at the time of your petâ€™s assessment and if accepted onto the team, must be resubmitted annually.
- Canine Good Citizen Test and Training (Dogs Only)
All canine members of the Pet Hug Pack must the American Kennel Clubâ€™s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test or hold a CGC certificate which was earned in the last 24 months. The CGC program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for guardians and basic good manners for dogs. Three ways to meet this requirement are:
- ARF offers a 7-week training course for the CGC test. Please see the schedule of dog training classes for upcoming dates and fees.
- If you feel your dog can pass all 10 test components without taking the training course, you may arrange to take the test only. Contact ARFâ€™s dog training coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your CGC test.
- The CGC test can be administered at another AKC approved test site. A copy of the test results must be provided to the Pet Hug Pack Coordinator.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
- Pet Hug Pack Evaluation
New Pet Hug Pack evaluations will begin again in August 2014.
All animal/handler teams must pass an assessment conducted by the Pet Hug Pack coordinator.Â To schedule this assessment please email the Pet Hug Pack Coordinator at PetHugPack@arf.net or call 925.296.3176.
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