Olive, a black and white dog, stands next to a student

SHARING THE JOY OF PETS

with those who need it most

Pet Visitation Programs

Our pet visitation programs bring the joy of animal companionship to students at William Fox Elementary School through Paws for Reading, to residents of area nursing homes and retirement communities through Paws for Health™ and to paramedics at Richmond Ambulance Authority through Paws for Paramedics.

Paws for Reading

Paws for Reading

Monthly, our staff and volunteers, joined by their own carefully-screened dogs, visit classrooms at William Fox Elementary School during the instructional day to allow students to practice their developing reading skills in front of a nonjudgmental audience.

Research shows that students who read aloud to dogs demonstrate improved attitudes about reading, and reading skills are often associated with improved academic performance and positive attitudes about school. And, it goes without saying that the dogs love all the extra attention, too!

Interested in joining our Paws for Reading volunteer team? Please contact Tamsen Kingry at tkingry@richmondspca.org.

Paws for Health™

Our Paws for Health volunteers and their pets visit local hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities in the Richmond area – and have been doing so since 1999.

Join Paws for Health
All sizes and types of dogs are welcome. Dogs must be at least one year of age and spayed or neutered. Handlers must be at least 16 years of age. Younger children (with permission) may accompany an adult who is a trained Paws for Health volunteer.

Prepare for Paws for Health
Our training classes are great ways to prepare your dog to participate in Paws for Health. We recommend our Canine Manners and Tricks classes for new Paws for Health volunteer therapy dog teams.

Training Process
All dogs and their handlers applying to participate in Paws for Health must:

Upon completion of one of the training process options, please contact our Chief of Education and Training at 804-521-1324 or by email to receive your application and to schedule your shadowing and observation visits.

* We offer Canine Good Citizen tests to pets and their people who are interested in becoming a Paws for Health volunteer team. Please contact our Education and Training Administrator at 804-521-1332 or by email to schedule.

** We evaluate pets and their people who are interested in becoming a Paws for Health volunteer team. Please contact our Chief of Education and Training at 804-521-1324 or by email to schedule.

Paws for Health Visitation Opportunities

  • Regularly-scheduled visits at area nursing homes and retirement communities
  • Performances (fashion shows, tricks performances)
  • Children’s holiday events at the Richmond SPCA
  • Humane education tours/visits at the Richmond SPCA or at local schools and libraries

Paws for Paramedics

We launched Paws for Paramedics in 2018 with the Richmond Ambulance Authority. The program is designed to help EMS providers relieve stress through regular interaction with pets who are awaiting adoption. Frequent exposure to traumatic events can lead to high levels of workplace stress for these providers, and RAA recognized the positive impact that pets from the neighboring animal welfare organization could have for their employees.

While RAA staff interact with pets awaiting adoption during the monthly visits, they are also providing enrichment and exposure for dogs and cats in need of lasting, loving homes. Pets’ interactions with paramedics and EMTs are featured in photos and videos on the RAA website and social media encouraging the public to visit and adopt from the Richmond SPCA.

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Our Partners

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