|Frequently Asked Questions|
How do I recognize a pet therapy animal on campus?
OSU Pet Therapy animals will be required to wear a working vest, collar, and leash while on campus. The vest will have a “Therapy Dog” patch, as well as an “Ask to Pet Me” patch. In addition, a special patch will be created for the animals in the Pete's Pet Posse Program.
Does the animal belong to OSU?
No, the animal lives with his/her family and only acts as a volunteer for OSU.
What does the animal do as a Pet Therapy animal?
The animal can do multiple things and the program serves a variety of purposes. Some animals may simply act as a greeter and others may serve in a true therapeutic setting. The role of the animal will be determined by the department and also by the owner/handler.
What is the purpose of the program?
Research has shown that animals have wellness benefits such as lowering blood pressure and even cholesterol. In addition, they can help with feelings of loneliness and can even just help brighten someone’s day. This program is being added as an additional wellness benefit in the area of emotional health.
How do I apply for the program?
You can download an application from the website PetTherapy.okstate.edu
What happens after I apply?
The OSU Pet Therapy Coordinator will contact you upon receipt of your application. At that time, additional instructions will be given as it relates to scheduling a physical exam and disposition evaluation.
What happens after the initial exam and evaluation?
If the OSU Veterinarian and the trainer both recommend the animal for the program, your application and information will be forwarded to the OSU Pet Therapy Advisory Board. The board will then review the information and vote to approve the application.
Do I have to use a specific trainer?
The initial disposition evaluation of the animal will be done by Lynne Bennett, a trainer recommended by the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and a volunteer coordinator with Pete's Pet Posse. Lynne will teach a group class and owners/handlers will be strongly encouraged to attend the class with other dogs and owners/handlers in the program. This method is more cost effective and creates a bond among the group. The class will also test together for certification and will help create a stronger success rate. If the group class is not an option, the owner/handler may use any trainer they prefer.
What if my dog is already a certified therapy dog?
The dog will still need to be evaluated by the OSU veterinarian to assess the physical health and by the trainer to evaluate current disposition. All animals accepted into Pete's Pet Posse must be certified with HALO (Human Animal Link of Oklahoma).
How much training does it take and how much does it cost?
The group class for certification training is $300. If the group class cannot be taken, the estimated cost of private training is $1000 per animal. The amount of training is dependent upon the dog and also the owner/handler. The owner/handler should work out arrangements with the trainer – weekly sessions, daily sessions, or even live in training. Some animals may not reach $1000 and some may exceed that amount.
Who pays for training?
Training may be paid for by the department, owner/handler, or by a donor to the Pet Therapy Program – or any combination thereof. An OSU Pet Therapy fund has been set up at the OSU Foundation for money to be deposited.
What happens if my department doesn’t want to participate?
While the OSU Pet Therapy Program has many benefits, we realize it is not for all departments and all individuals. Ultimately, the department must agree to have the therapy dog in the office.
How often do I bring my animal to work?
The animal’s schedule is to be agreed upon by the department and the owner/hander. The department and owner/handler should work together to determine the best schedule for the animal, owner/handler, and the office.
What if someone in my office is afraid of dogs? Or what if someone is allergic to dogs?
Any staff issues related to the OSU Pet Therapy Program must be addressed by the department. The office of Human Resources may assist as needed. The department will be responsible for creating and implementing their own policy as it relates to the program.
Can I leave work to take my animal to other departments to visit?
It is possible that other departments may request a visit from an OSU Pet Therapy animal. Whether or not you may leave your current position to go to another department for a visit will be at the discretion of your supervisor. HR Partners can help answer questions regarding whether or not leave must be taken.
Once I am accepted into the program, am I always part of the OSU Pet Therapy Program?
Owners/handers and therapy animals will be evaluated each year. The OSU Pet Therapy Advisory Board will vote on acceptance into the program each year.
What happens if I am accepted into the program but have to leave the university?
If you leave the university within the first year of participation in the program, all expenses must be paid back to the university. This includes training, preventive medications, food, and any other expenses incurred by the department or the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
If I leave the university, what happens to my pet?
The animals belong to the owners/handlers and are not the property of the university. Your pet continues to reside with you and your family.
What is involved for me, as an owner/handler?
Owners/handlers should be committed to the program in all areas. This includes commitment to training, taking care of the pet as a member of the family, and transporting in a safe manner. In an effort to reach more of the campus population, visits outside of the normal working department are encouraged, which could result in volunteer hours.
Do I have to have my pet treated at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital?
You may continue to use your veterinarian if they are not at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, but all documentation should be sent to Dr. Lara Sypniewski to keep on file. If you wish to receive the heartguard and frontline, then your pet must complete a wellness exam at the OSUVTH.
What is the difference between a “regular” pet and a pet therapy animal?
A therapy animal receives special training, above and beyond basic obedience training. OSU Pet Therapy animals will be certified through HALO (Human Animal Link of Oklahoma) Click here to view the testing requirements.