Volunteer with PACTT

Our expertly trained DoveLewis Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams spend over 7,000 hours in schools, courtrooms, hospitals, and care centers every year. Make a difference with us.

What does “advanced” therapy animal mean?

The calm temperament, focused upbringing and extensive training of the retired and career change guide dogs in our program makes PACTT the most advanced team of volunteer therapy animals available. Teams receive thousands of training hours, including preparation in psychological first aid. This allows our therapy dog and handlers to assist in unpredictable emotional and physical environments and to handle intense and complex situations.  

Each team is under the leadership and guidance of DoveLewis, an established community-oriented organization.  Program dogs are career change or retired guide dogs who have been training since the day they were born so their behavior is predictable. Facilities can trust that they will be matched with dogs and handlers who are best suited to meet their needs. 

How is a therapy animal difference than a service animal?

Service animals are legally defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990 and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers. Federal laws protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Therapy animals are not legally defined or protected by federal law. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with them to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have “no pets” policies.

What is a “career change” dog?

Not all dogs graduate to become a service animal with Guide Dogs for the Blind! Our volunteer teams are made up of career change dogs who are talented, well trained, loving and eager to make a difference.

How do I volunteer?

The program is only available to Guide Dogs for the Blind career change or retired dogs and their adopters. To ensure the advanced skills of our teams, each dog-handler pair must have completed an AKC Canine Good Citizen program and test prior to being considered for the PACTT program, education through Guide Dogs for the Blind, and a team assessment.  

Want to learn more?

Ask about volunteering or schedule a PACTT visit.

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Volunteer Requirements

All dogs must be retired or career change from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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