UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Animal Assisted Therapy

Volunteers at Iowa Methodist, Iowa Lutheran and Methodist West make a difference for our patients, families and staff at the hospitals. Animal assisted therapy is available for patients and families at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Blank Children's Hospital and Iowa Lutheran Hospital during their stay. We understand the unique bond between humans and animals and how it can enhance a positive attitude and actually assist in the healing process. Animal Assisted Therapy volunteers at UPHDM are required to commit to visiting our facilities a minimum of once per month for a minimum of six months.

Steps to becoming an AAT volunteer:
  1. Have a desire to help and become a part of our health care team.
  2. All dogs must maintain certification and registration in Therapy Dogs International, Inc.
  3. Each dog must pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC), and a temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog.   
  4. Multiple dog TDI certification is required for volunteers who wish to bring more than one dog on visits to UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.
  5. Complete a UPHDM volunteer application and an AAT application.
  6. Complete a simple health screening at no cost to you. A seasonal flu vaccine is required.
  7. Pass a criminal background and dependent adult/child abuse registry check.
  8. Attend a placement interview/orientation session.
  9. Complete necessary training.

Upon evaluation by the animal assisted therapy program volunteer trainers, the animal must demonstrate behavior that it:  is reliable; is controllable; is predictable; inspires confidence in the person s/he is interacting with; and the animal actively solicits interactions with people and is accepting and forgiving of differences in people's reactions and behavior.

Handlers must demonstrate behavior that they:  are reliable; are confident and natural in their interactions with people and animals; have control of their animal; inspire confidence in the person s/he is interacting with; and actively engage in interactions with people and accept and forgive differences in people's reactions and behavior. 

To apply to be apart of the AAT program, please complete a UPHDM volunteer application as well as an AAT application.