Our Mission: To improve Human Health through the use of farm animals.
Client Confidentiality: Information relating to a client’s diagnosis/disability will be provided to volunteers on a “need to know” basis. Specific information relating to Equine Assisted Therapy’s clients’ diagnosis or personal situations is strictly confidential.
Volunteer Qualifications: All volunteers need to have the desire to learn safety procedures and follow the policies set by Thera-Pets. Volunteers need to have a positive attitude. Volunteers must be at least fourteen years old and at least 1 adult trained volunteer must be present at all times. Volunteers need to be physically fit, and be able to walk for 30 minutes. Some of the therapy sessions may take place on trails, which will require walking up and down hills, through the grass and in the woods. There should always be one more Volunteer (VIT do not count) per donkey at every visit
Barn Volunteer Qualifications: Barn volunteers must be at least 13 years old, and should always have at least one adult volunteer present at all times. Volunteers need to have some degree of physical fitness to perform various barn chores (i.e., groom donkeys & clean stalls) as directed.
Training Requirements: All volunteers should do initial training on the farm and be comfortable putting halters on and off, grooming, leading, cleaning feet, loading on trailer. Volunteers in training should have a general knowledge of donkeys and how to safely handle a donkey. Once the volunteer in training is comfortable with working with the donkey they should shadow the trained volunteer on the first visit and then should have a trained volunteer shadow until they are confident that they are ready to be a donkey handler without direct supervision.
Volunteers should always feel free to ask questions. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or unsure of anything please let us know.
Volunteer Cancellations: Please remember it is very important to let the scheduler know as soon as possible if you are unable to make the scheduled volunteer training and or therapy visit. A volunteer is expected to be reliable.
Professional Conduct: Volunteers are required to be polite and respectful to our participants, fellow volunteers and donkeys at all times. Only perform tasks you are trained and qualified to perform. Under no circumstances are volunteers permitted to assist any client in the restroom. Only the client’s parent or care provider is permitted to assist the client, NO EXCEPTIONS. DO NOT put yourself in a situation where you would be alone with a client. REMEMBER: Whenever you are wearing “Thera-Pets” (e.g., shirts and hats, with Thera-Pets logos), you are an ambassador of our program. Your behavior is a reflection of Thera-Pets, Inc. Dress Code: NOTE: During all sessions, dressing in layers is strongly recommended. DO: Always appear neat and tidy Wear sensible and comfortable clothing Be prepared to be outside in the elements on various footing Wear hard-soled shoes (boots are preferred; tennis shoes are acceptable) with a hard top. Wear a Thera-Pet’s Shirts. Jeans, slacks or walking shorts are appropriate Turn cellular phones / electronic devices OFF or place on vibrate, please reframe from using your phone on visits. Bring a sweatshirt or jacket on cool/windy days Wear hat and gloves on cold/windy days and consider long underwear, coveralls, and/or snow pants Sunscreen, visors/ball caps and sunglasses are recommended on sunny days Protect yourself from the mud, wet grass, sun, wind, bugs (including ticks), as well as from light showers Bring water Wear your name badge during group visits on the farm Keep conversations “G” rated. DON’T: Answer your cell. phone during a lesson Wear revealing clothes (e.g., halter/crop tops, short shorts), sandals/open shoes… such items are inappropriate Chew gum Wear long jewelry that could get caught and cause injury to yourself Responsibilities: Be punctual. Check with the scheduler to know what time to arrive. Once a child or disabled individual is with you, their whereabouts and safety are your responsibility! Never leave a participant unattended! Safety is our number one concern for humans and donkeys at all times! Get to know your donkey. Be aware of the donkey’s mood and temperament. Be aware of your own body language and intent as you begin interacting with the donkey. When you meet a person with a disability, be yourself! Be a friend and treat him/her as an equal. At the same time, be aware of the disability. One of the hardest aspects of volunteering is standing back and letting the person do things for him/herself. Lend a hand if asked, or if you see an unsafe situation arising. Be patient. Try not to predetermine the person’s abilities. They will always surprise you! Do not talk about the person in front of him/her; talk to the person. Use appropriate language. Lesson Volunteer Descriptions Pressure and Release - Volunteers must be fluent in how to work with a donkey. The donkeys have been trained with pressure and release, it is extremely important to not reinforce the wrong behavior. The only exception is when the safety of other people is involved. Be aware of the surroundings as it pertains to safety of you, the donkeys and the people around you. Be aware of possible dangers and distractions. Be aware of what the person is doing. Be able to handle the donkey in a variety of situations. Be skilled in techniques needed to calm a donkey in an emergency Know appropriate training and discipline techniques as it pertains to leading, Volunteers should be properly trained on how to put a halter on and take it off. They should also know where to hook the lead rope. Volunteers should be trained in how to hold the lead rope and walk the donkey. Volunteers should know verbal commands for the donkey to get them to respond. Volunteers should never use food or allow anyone to feed the donkeys. Specifically, the donkeys are never to be fed from hands (at the end of each visit a treat/reward can be given after the donkeys are loaded on to the trailer. dress code - Thera-Pets shirt should be worn. Shoes should have good traction leather is recommended. NO OPEN TOE SHOES. No leaving the facility before other members of visiting team depart, donkeys should always be together Always ask if it’s ok to come in and visit – not everyone wants to see the donkeys Be aware of surroundings and potential hazards for donkeys or people: Change in floor surfaces Easily accessible food Medical equipment
Basic Donkey Safety Guidelines Volunteers should be vigilant when on a visit. Always watching toes. Making sure that you are positioning yourself in a way that the donkey will not move over someone's feet. Use caution around the muzzle and lips. Fingers resemble carrots! . Always redirect them to the top of the donkey’s head or body. Do not hold your hand out with your palm up as if you are going to feed the donkey something. Make no assumptions and teach no assumptions! This means do not assume that if the donkey or client did something one day, they will automatically do it the next time. Know how to protect your personal space, the personal space of clients, and the personal space of your donkey. Know how to read the donkey so you can respond to negative feedback BEFORE it escalates. NEVER wrap a lead rope around your hand, wrist or any other part of your body! NEVER leave a client unattended in a stall or other enclosure with a loose donkey. Stay on the same side of the donkey as the client. Body language is universal for humans and donkeys. Try to use your body and expressions MORE than you use words. Remember that communication is two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea. Physically fit - Volunteers, must be physically fit and able to hold a donkey and control it. Listening not talking - When we visit the elderly it is always about them. Make sure you are listening to them. The visitation team should always consist of at least 2 donkeys and 3 volunteers. The team should always stay together. Donkeys can become anxious when they are separated the other donkeys. It is essential to the success of our visitations that we always have an extra person to watch tails, assist if a donkey or volunteers needs help. The extra person should be vigilant in any potential dangers. Leaving the team if you are the 3rd person is unacceptable, unless you need to do so for the safety of the donkeys or to use the bathroom. Be aware of surroundings and potential hazards for donkeys or people: Change in floor surfaces Easily accessible food Medical equipment Always ask if it’s ok to come in and visit – not everyone wants to see the donkeys