Offering healing pet therapy to at-risk children nurturing their emotional development and enhancing the quality of their lives forever.
In order for Gabriel’s Angels to provide services, it is vitally necessary to have trained Therapy Teams. Therapy Teams are volunteers consisting of an owner and pet, most commonly a dog. Therapy teams must be registered with Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) or Therapy Dogs, Inc. and clear an FBI fingerprint/background check prior to being assigned to a partner agency. In addition, Gabriel’s Angels provides extensive training to its volunteers, including information specific to the age group of children the volunteer will be working with, and structured activities that will effectively impact the core behaviors needed for abused children to develop socially.
The group therapy visit is relatively un-structured, following a Montessori-based educational belief that children will convey what they need to accomplish during the visit. For example, children might brush the dogs’ teeth, drawing the parallel between this activity and self-care needed to maintain personal good health. Or, children might observe that the dog is panting and provide a drink for the dog, learning to recognize a need in another and respond positively in filling that need and displaying empathy. As a final example, children are taught how to give a command, such as “sit” and reward the dog for obeying the command. How empowering for a child to tell a 100 pound dog to “sit” and be obeyed! For children who feel no control in their lives, working with the therapy dog helps them begin to develop a sense of confidence. Gabriel’s Angels provides consistent group Pet Therapy visits at 120 partner agencies, 85 in Central Arizona, 5 in Northern Arizona, and 30 in Southern Arizona. The average visit lasts anywhere from one to one and one-half hours. Our Therapy Teams work best with groups of 10 to 12 children.
The cost for each Pet Therapy Team to be recruited, trained, placed and monitored for one year is $2,500. It is critical for the success of Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy Program to have well trained and supported Teams interacting with our community’s more at-risk children.