The Pet Hug Pack™ is ARF's renowned therapy animal team composed of more than 165 qualified pets and their volunteer handlers who spread pet-assisted comfort throughout Contra Costa County. Pack pets are tested to ensure they are well-mannered, healthy, and possess good temperament before they visit hospitals, rehab centers, schools, adult day care facilities, and more.
A national model for visiting animal team programs, the Pet Hug Pack™ made its first official visit in 2002 and now makes more than 350 visits each month, touching thousands of people each year. The team also participates in education and community events, as ARF ambassadors and symbols of unconditional love and compassion.
Photographs of ARF's dedicated Pet Hug Pack team members are available here.
Does your group want to start or improve a visiting animal team program in your area? ARF can provide guidance and resource materials. Please contact the Pet Hug Pack Coordinator at PetHugPack@arf.net.
Studies show interaction with companion animals lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and otherwise improves one's physical and mental health. In addition, research demonstrates many people who are emotionally "closed down" or unresponsive will often open up in remarkable ways when they are petting a cat or dog.
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.
Interested in becoming a Pet Hug Pack volunteer?
- 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 public 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 email@example.com 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
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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