joining the pals family

Volunteer With Us

Become a PALS pet therapy volunteer

We are with you and your furry friend every step of the way. Our  tailored evaluation process ensures you have the skills you need for a successful pet visit. We’ve inducted over 1,000 volunteers and can’t wait to meet you and your pet!

Minimum Eligibility Criteria – PLEASE READ BEFORE APPLYING 

  • All pets must be a minimum of 2 years or maximum 8 years old.
  • Proof of rabies vaccination as well as distemper, parovirus and adenovirus required. 
  • Due to lack of placement opportunities, we are not able to take any new cat volunteers.
  • Due to the nature of the facilities PALS visits, all volunteers must provide proof of a minimum of 2 COVID vaccinations to participate in the PALS programs.
  • PALS volunteers may not be affiliated with another pet therapy organization. 

Why volunteer? Enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people through sharing your beloved pet. Watching the reaction on people’s faces will leave you feeling positively changed and emotionally connected.

Volunteer with PALS

This is a FOUR stage process, you must attend all of these stages to be eligible to be part of the PALS program.

Stage 1: PALS Information Session

Stage 2: Interview Session

Stage 3: PALS Pet Evaluations

Stage 4: Policies and Procedures

Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in the volunteer application process?

As well as submitting this online form and paying the $40 application fee, volunteers must also:

  • Attend all four stages of the application process
  • Provide proof of your pet’s protection against rabies
  • Provide proof of your 2 COVID vaccinations. (This is due to the nature of the facilities we visit)
  • Have your veterinarian complete a Pet Health Assessment
  • Complete and submit a New Application Information Package prior to evaluating
  • Pass and submit a Calgary Police Service or RCMP Security Clearance
What are the expectations of PALS volunteers?

If accepted, new PALS volunteers are required to:

  • Make a firm commitment for a minimum of 1 year to visit with a PALS team twice a month
    • Considerable time and effort are involved in qualifying a volunteer and their pet for PALS
    • Commitment on the part of volunteers is essential to the success of the PALS program
    • Clients, facilities and other PALS volunteers depend on your attendance
    • A volunteer will lose their volunteer status if more than 3 consecutive months are missed
  • Attend a PALS orientation and policy and procedure session
  • Submit an New Application Fee ($40) with your application and then each consecutive year pay your annual PALS membership ($30.00 single, $40.00 family)
  • Participate in at least one fundraising event per year
  • Provide annual proof of vaccination and/or Pet Health Assessment as requested.
  • Attend pet re-evaluations as required.
Are there any costs involved?

New volunteers joining PALS for the first time are required to pay a New Volunteer Application Fee of $40 which includes your membership for the first year. All subsequent years current PALS members are required to pay $30 per year for singles and $40 per year for families.

Will I be able to take my pet to work with me when they become a PALS pet therapy dog?

NO. At least not unless you could take your pet with you to work before they became a PALS pet. Becoming a PALS pet does not give your pet any special authority or privileges to bring them with you to work, stores, restaurants, on airplanes, etc. They are not service animals! In addition, pet therapy visits are not to last longer than 1.5 hours as it is too physically and emotionally demanding on your pet and they cannot handle being at the office and acting as a pet therapist all day long – it would be too exhausting.

What is the minimum age that pets must be before they can be evaluated?

Dogs and cats must be a minimum of 2 years of age before they will be considered for evaluation into the PALS program. Rabbits and Guinea Pigs will be considered for evaluation after one year of age.
We understand everyone loves puppies and kittens, however their behaviour tends to be less predictable and can cause injuries with their sharp teeth and nails. In addition, their bathroom skills can be unreliable. Please take the time to prepare them for pet therapy by providing them with a wide variety of socialization activities.

What is the maximum age that my pet can apply to be evaluated?

Dogs applying to be new to the PALS program are subject to the upper age limits:

  • Dogs weighing less than 50 lbs. (22.5 kg.) must be younger than 10 years old on the date of screening.
  • Dogs weighing 50 lbs (22.5 kg.) or more must be younger than 8 years old on the date of screening.
  • Cats must be less than 7 years of age on the date of screening.
  • Guinea Pigs must be less than 4 years old on the date of screening.
  • Rabbits must be less than 5 years on the date of screening.
  • For pets with no known birth date, the pet’s usual veterinarian will determine the age.
What are the vaccination requirements for my pet?

All pets coming into the PALS program are required to submit written proof from a veterinarian that their pet has received the required vaccinations listed below prior to their evaluation.

Dogs: Rabies vaccination; core Distemper vaccinations; core Hepatitis vaccinations; coreParvovirus vaccinations Can be single or multi-year vaccination.
Cats: Rabies vaccination; core Feline Rhinotracheitis virus vaccinations; core Feline calcivirus vaccinations; core Pan leukopenia vaccinations. Can be single or multi-year vaccination.
Rabbits & Guinea Pigs: no shots required

Can my pet be fed a raw fed diet and still visit with PALS?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that there are restrictions on which facilities you will be allowed to visit at, but there are still plenty of other opportunities for you and your pet to visit.
Does my pet have to be spayed or neutered to participate in PALS?

No, PALS does not restrict the inclusion of intact pets from entering the program, however, owners must take special care when visiting. Team members need to suspend visiting when intact females are in heat, pregnant or nursing. All intact females returning to a visiting pet status must be re-evaluated prior to returning to their placement. Members with intact males need to be aware of females coming close to their cycle and the increased likelihood of marking territory.

What training is required to become a PALS pets?

No formal training is offered or required to join PALS. We will evaluate all pets for basic obedience and temperament through our 13-step evaluation process.

Rabies vaccination; core Distemper vaccinations; core Hepatitis vaccinations; core
Parvovirus vaccinations Can be single or multi-year vaccination.
Cats: Rabies vaccination; core Feline Rhinotracheitis virus vaccinations; core Feline
calcivirus vaccinations; core Pan leukopenia vaccinations. Can be single or multi-year
Rabbits & Guinea Pigs: no shots required

There are many fabulous training facilities throughout Calgary if you are interested in obedience classes for your pet and some organizations offer the Canadian Kennel Club’s Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) program which would be a solid foundation for PALS.
In addition, if your pet is under 2 years old, you can prepare them through socialization activities.

Do I require any types of security clearances?

All PALS volunteers are required by Alberta law to complete a police security clearance, including vulnerable sector check through either the Calgary Police Service or the nearest RCMP detachment. You will not be placed on a permanent facility team until your police security clearance has been received at the PALS office.

What is the time commitment?

PALS volunteers are asked to make a commitment of two one-hour visits per month. If you wish to volunteer more visiting time than that, you are welcome to do so.
In addition, volunteers must volunteer for one fund raising activity during the year. You are expected to attend your regularly scheduled visits unless there is a very good reason for being away (vacation, illness, work requirements).

If I can't make a visit can my spouse act as a substitute?

Only if your spouse, friend or family member has completed all requirements including submitting an application, attending the information session, being evaluated with the pet, applying for and submitting their police security clearance, attending the PALS orientation and any orientations the facility may have. In addition, the PALS office must be made aware of this as there is additional paperwork that must be submitted to the facility.

How many facilities does PALS visit?

PALS currently visits over 60 facilities. Our clients are 55% seniors, 25% adults and 20% children and teenagers. Once you have passed your evaluation and met all the other requirements, you will receive a list of available facilities whose teams are needing members. You will be able to choose your placement based on the time and day of the week that best suits you.

Will I be visiting the same place each time?

PALS finds that regular visits to one facility fosters bonding between residents and you and your pet. We have observed on many occasions dogs that literally lead their owner to “favorite” residents and most of our pets become very excited when they get within a certain distance of their facility. It is almost as if the pets know the routine and enjoy it.

What other types of volunteering can I do with my pet?

Each month PALS has many opportunities for volunteers to do additional activities with their pets. These are special visits and community events and are emailed out to volunteers.

Where do you get your funding?

PALS is currently funded through its fundraising efforts and through generous donations by private and corporate donations. PALS also receives funds from the United Way Donor’s Choice Program. All PALS program are provided free to the clients and facilities we serve.