Become an AAT Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in AAT!

We are excited to meet you and your pet. This first checklist covers our training prerequisites.

To begin evaluation for the programs, you must complete all of the following:

  • Your pet should, at all times, be on a flat collar or harness and non-retractable leash;
  • All pets must be one year of age, and in the current home for a minimum of six months;
  • All pets must be surgically altered (spay/neuter);
  • Pets cannot have ANY negative history with humans; e.g. no growling, biting, or other signs of aggression directed toward people;
  • Pets may NOT be fed a raw protein diet;
  • Pets must be generally solicitous; i.e. pets must willingly approach;
  • Handlers must be 18 years of age;
  • Handlers must know the pet’s stress signals; and
  • All incoming teams must have at least two obedience courses. **The classes must exclusively teach positive reinforcement-based training–we cannot accept courses rooted in aversive training techniques or aversive gear.**

Learn more: What’s Wrong With The Prong?

If you have taken training courses, but are unsure whether they meet this qualification, please contact us at 415.554.3060 or AAT@sfspca.org.

Once you meet the above requirements, you are welcome to submit an application. When received, you will be invited to attend an Orientation.

  • Application Please download and submit an application to begin your volunteer processing. Note: If you are only able to volunteer on weekends and/or evenings, we are accepting those applications but may not have as many visit opportunities for you at this time.
  • AAI Orientation All participants must complete an AAI orientation, which are offered on the SF SPCA campus on a minimum of six Tuesdays and six Sundays over the course of each calendar year. Please use the link to register.
  • Have you already completed AAI Orientation? Sign up for specialized training, temperament checks, and recertification.

There are several additional steps to AAI certification, which you will learn about at your AAI Orientation. In brief, they include

  • Preliminary Evaluation
  • Annual veterinary health certification
  • Observation of current teams
  • AAT Class Series (fee $250, scholarships and payment plans available with demonstrated financial need)
  • Mentored visit with seasoned volunteer
  • Biennial recertification (fee $35)

NOTE: Many of our sites and populations have requirements beyond the basic ones outlined here. If you are interested in serving in a particular program or a specific population, please let us know and we can work with you to achieve those goals.

Contact the Animal Assisted Therapy department at 415.554.3060 or email AAT@sfspca.org.

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