Membership

Being a Faithful Paws Member means that you will have the opportunity to enrich the lives of others through animal-assisted therapy. Pet therapy offers a multitude of physical, mental, and emotional benefits for people of all ages, from decreasing stress levels and blood pressure to increasing energy levels and self-esteem.

Our American Kennel Club certified teams provide ongoing, as well as one-time visits to schools, libraries, hospitals, senior-tiered living communities, rehabilitation facilities, hospice centers, colleges, universities and other organizations that request our services.  

Therapy pets are different from service animals and emotional support animals. Click here for more information about the differences.

Membership Requirements

  1. Submit an application, upload all required documents, and pay the non-refundable application and training class fees. When you click the button below to fill out the application, please be sure you have the following documents ready to go:
    • Completed Health Record signed by your veterinarian: Please complete a Health Record form for each pet applying to be a member of Faithful Paws. You may either: (1) print the form and take it to your vet to for them to complete and sign it or (2) email the form to your vet for them to complete and sign it. Whichever option you choose, your vet needs to complete and sign the form, and you’ll need to upload a photo or scanned copy of the form into the member portal.  Here are the links to the forms: Dog, Cat, Rabbit
    • Rabies Vaccination Certificate: This is a single page that is usually titled “Rabies Certificate” or “Certificate of Vaccination” and must be signed by your Veterinarian. This IS NOT a summary of vaccinations.
    • A photo of your Texas Drivers License
    • A good quality passport-type photo of you for your badge
    • A good quality passport-type photo of your pet for his/her badge
  2. If you have a young dog, you may wish to attend a puppy training/obedience class before starting our training.  Many places such as Petco, PetSmart offer classes.  Our partner training facility is Wholistic Woofers & Co
  3. The age of your dog starting class is dependent on the dog’s maturity and breed, in general. Most dogs need to be at least one year of age.  Some breeds, including many large and giant breeds, may need more time to mature before attempting pet therapy work. If you have questions about the age and readiness of your dog to start training, please contact us before submitting your application.
  4. Attend and successfully pass our training class. If you have a second or third handler, they must attend all sessions.  Click here for complete information on all of our training class dates, times, and locations.   You will receive important information via email and also from our  trainer, which includes homework assignments.  If you  have an excused absence from class, any missed instruction must be practiced and prepared for the next class.
  5. Dogs are required to obtain their American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) TITLE.  
  6. Having a CGC is not enough preparation for pet therapy work. Practice combined with socialization with new dogs and people prepares our teams for success! If you already have your CGC, you still are required to attend a training class because we teach you and your pet how to successfully and safely participate in pet therapy. Practice at home is required to master the ten skills tested for the CGC.   
  7. You can check out the requirements for the Canine Good Citizen Test and find other helpful information on the AKC website. It is very helpful to review this before starting class, and it’s never too early to start training!
  8. If your dog is not ready to take the test at the end of our training class, you will have the option to attend additional training classes and take the CGC test at another available testing date.
  9. Dogs who are medically unable to pass the CGC will still attend all training sessions. They will be given a temperament test, and if passed, admitted to membership in Faithful Paws.
  10. Cats and Rabbits are tested with a temperament test. There is a separate protocol for cats and rabbits. This information will be given to you when you complete your application.

Failure to do all of the above will result in not becoming a member and needing to re-apply should you wish to be considered in the future.

Remaining a Member in Good Standing

To remain a member in good standing, all members are required to do the following within our membership portal during the designated renewal period each year (January 15-February 15):

  1. Upload all required documents. Members are not allowed to participate in visits if their pet’s rabies certificate or other required documents are expired.
  2. Update their profiles, including contact information and any other required information. Pay the annual, non-refundable renewal fee(s)

Failure to do all of the above will result in not remaining a member and needing to re-apply should you wish to rejoin in the future.

Click below to learn more about Faithful Paws Membership, and refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information.

Additional Information About Membership and Training

Application, Training, and Annual Renewal Fees

Application and Training Fees:

  • Non-refundable application fee: $40
  • Fee for each additional Handler: $25
  • Training class non-refundable deposit (for dogs): $35
  • Training class fee:  $100 payable in full on or before the first night of class.
  • Only one dog per handler is allowed in a training class.
  • Cat/Rabbit training fee: $20

Annual Member Renewal Fees:

  • Renewal fee (January 15-February 15):  $40
  • Renewal late fee (February 16-March 1): $65
  • If a member does not renew on time they are no longer eligible to visit and a re-evaluation and fee may apply.

Additional Costs to Anticipate Once You Become and Approved Member

  • Shirts: A variety of shirts are offered from our private Land’s End Business link. The cost is approximately $30-60 depending on the product(s) you order, and the link will be provided through our member portal.
  • Dog Vest: We require a custom logo dog vest ordered through our vendor.  The price is dependent on the size and customization selected. The cost is approximately $20 – $50 vendor contact information will be provided upon membership approval.
  • All costs for travel, treats, costumes, pet apparel, grooming, and pet information cards are covered by the member.
  • American Kennel Club (AKC) membership (if not already a member) and title application fee are paid directly to the AKC at the time of any title registration.

Membership Guidelines

  • Membership is renewed annually from January 15-February 15.
  • Members may not take any photos showing faces of adults or children (i.e. staff, patients, students, etc.) while on visits, regardless of verbal or written permission that might be given. No such photos may be posted to social media or shared in any other manner.
  • Faithful Paws members are required to wear their Faithful Paws logo shirt to every visit and abide by the dress code set by the facility they are visiting. Wear sensible, safe, closed toe walking shoes. No jeans, cutoffs, capris, yoga pants, or shorts.  
  • They must display their current badge, as well as their pet’s badge.  Members should present a neat, clean appearance and not be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs that would impair safety or judgment. 
  • Some facilities require a blue Faithful Paws pet vest. While a vest is not required, a vest is HIGHLY recommended. Pets must be bathed within 48 hours of every visit. Pets must be groomed and brushed. Bring a pet that smells good, is not matted, and has recently trimmed paws and coat. Any soiling in eyes or other areas needs to be cleaned. Collars are a source of “doggie odor” – be sure to wash your dog’s collar frequently. We encourage bows, cute collars, bow ties for the boys, etc. – bring your pet “runway” ready!
  • There is no minimum age for handlers, but handlers under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian for class, testing, and on all visitations. The parent is considered the primary handler, the child is the secondary handler. Some facilities require all visitors to be over 21.
  • Our program does not certify pets to be used as part of any business or agency.
  • Our pets are not certified to be used in any kind of private practice, volunteering, caregiving, etc.
  • Our certification does not entitle our pets to go to work with their owners for any reason.
  • We never make home or apartment visits.
  • We visit our pre-arranged and approved facilities, on set schedules, never as “drop ins”.
  • Faithful Paws does not participate in providing service hours or volunteer hours for any purpose.
  • Therapy animals are not required to be spayed or neutered. Female animals must not be in estrus or nursing when attending class or participating in therapy work.
  • If you ever decide to stop visiting or move out of the Houston area, you are expected to notify us.
  • Therapy pets are only considered therapy pets as long as they are active members of their certifying organization. Once they quit, retire, or are no longer active, they are no longer considered a therapy pet at all. Active status for Faithful Paws members and pets can be checked at any time with our administrator through this website. The therapy pet and handler must maintain active status with their therapy animal registration/certification organization as long as they are volunteering to be considered a therapy animal.
  • By registering or renewing, all members agree to inform the Executive Director of the Faithful Paws immediately if their animal(s) shows any sign of aggressive behavior toward other animals or persons, and to stop visiting with their animal(s) until the matter has been resolved with our Executive Director.
  • By accepting registration or renewal with Faithful Paws Pet Therapy Program, the applicant agrees to abide by all rules and guidelines. Failure to abide by these rules will be subject to cancellation of registration or renewal. All rules, guidelines, regulations, forms and other materials are subject to revision or replacement as needed without prior notice.
  • Please note that Faithful Paws does not require exclusive membership to our organization, but asks that if there is a conflict of interest between visits/facilities, you choose one organization. Conflict of interest cases will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Director. Our group has abundant opportunities for visits, with many organizations waiting for new teams to form.
  • For additional information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions.

Training and Certification

Training Classes

Training is offered by invitation only. We will contact you directly once we have received your completed application, you have paid the required fees, and all of your paperwork has been checked and approved. You will then be added to our waitlist for a place in a training class. We will notify you when a place has opened up for you to start training. Applicants who already have their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Title are required to attend and pay for all training classes. They will not be required to re-take the CGC test at the end of the class, provided they have submitted proof of CGC Title from the American Kennel Club (AKC). If you would like to look into getting your CGC while you are waiting for a training class, please go to the AKC Canine Good Citizen website for more information.

Both the human and the pet will be preparing and evaluated for suitability to do this work. In addition, CGC skills will be taught or refreshed, as each individual team requires. At the end of the class, those teams who do not have their CGC already will have the opportunity to test with our evaluator and if successful, earn their AKC CGC Title. Paperwork must be sent to the AKC for certification. Payment for CGC testing is made directly to the evaluator at the time of testing and details will be given on how to complete the process and payment to the AKC.

If a primary and secondary handler have signed up, they must BOTH show up to all training classes and testing. Youth (under 18 years of age) handlers are limited in the facilities they are allowed to visit and must always be accompanied at all times by a parent, both in class and on visits.

Animals must never show aggression to humans or to other animals. All animals are screened during training. The handler and pet will be evaluated together. Some pets as well as some humans will not have the temperament appropriate for pet therapy. Human team members must understand and comply with Faithful Paws procedures and policies when representing Faithful Paws on visits.

We do not use reptiles or exotic animals. Some of our members have more than one certified pet. Only a few facilities will allow us to bring more than one certified pet per handler. The limit is two pets per handler at these few facilities.

Certification:

  • Dogs must pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test and/or a temperament test to be certified.
  • Cats and rabbits must pass a temperament test to be certified.

The following 10 basic items make up the CGC test and will be practiced during our classes:

  1. Greets a friendly stranger
  2. Sits politely for petting
  3. Welcomes being groomed, brushed; allows paws, tail and ears to be handled
  4. Walks as directed on a loose leash
  5. Moves politely through a crowd
  6. Sits, lies down, and stays in place on command
  7. Comes when called
  8. Behaves politely around other dogs
  9. Reacts with confidence to distractions
  10. Can be left with a trusted person (3 minutes)

Usual obedience commands that dogs will be expected to obey:

  • “Heel” “Sit” “Down” “Stay” “Come”
  • Two additional commands we teach and use: “Watch Me” “Leave It”

When members are cleared to start volunteering:
Once you have received your membership approval certification, you are cleared to start visiting and will receive an email with all pertinent information.  With 100-150 monthly visits, there is something for every volunteer, and you will enjoy going to different venues. Most of our visits are during the daytime on weekdays and weekends.

Apply to Become a Member

If you have never been a Faithful Paws Member*, you will need to complete an application. After we receive your application, we will contact you if you are eligible for membership. New members may apply between February 16 through December 31 each year. Please remember to have your documents ready before clicking below to begin the application.

A successful Faithful Paws applicant will do the following:

  1. Follow directions to complete online application with a minimum of administrator assistance. Ask a family member or friend to help if necessary.
  2. Come to all classes on time (or early).
  3. Show up with a positive, cheerful attitude as demonstrated by words, actions and body language.
  4. Ask questions of trainers and administrators in a respectful manner.
  5. Listen attentively and not talk to others while the trainer is talking.
  6. Accept correction as a necessary part of learning.
  7. Pay close attention during class.
  8. Work at learning and practices diligently with the pet between all sessions, preferably two or three 15-minute sessions daily.
  9. Complete all homework assigned on time and without prompting.

IMPORTANT: When you click the button below to apply to become a member, you will see instructions regarding entering your pet’s name in the First Name field on the first screen of the application after you create a username and password. Please make sure you put your pet’s name in the First Name field and not your first name. The last name field will be your last name. Your full name will be entered on the following screen.

Click Here to Apply to Become a Member

*If you were previously a member of Faithful Paws and want to return, please reach out to us via email at [email protected]. We will provide instructions on how to re-apply and/or be re-evaluated.