What do libraries, schools, hospitals, veterans facilities, domestic violence centers, and court rooms all have in common? They, along with a number of other places, all receive pet therapy visits from Love On A Leash (LOAL), the Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy organization. Love On A Leash is a national, non-profit, all volunteer organization established in 1984. The goal is simple – to bring smiles and comfort to those who are visited by a pet therapy animal. Pet therapy animals are privately owned and can be a dog, cat, or rabbit. The dogs can be pure breeds, mixed breeds, and come in all sizes. LOAL does not raise and train dogs to be service or companion animals.
To become a fully certified LOAL pet therapy team, dogs must have basic obedience skills and a good temperament. After graduating from a six-week pet therapy training class and passing a control evaluation test (as well as passing the Canine Good Citizen test), the dogs and their humans must then complete a minimum of 10 supervised visits. For cats and rabbits, a veterinarian must certify their health and temperament. After initial certification, those pets must also complete a minimum of 10 supervised visits.

There are three LOAL chapters in San Diego County – San Diego Love On A Leash (sandiegoLOAL@aol.com), which covers the north county inland areas; San Diego North County Chapter (mgleisberg@cox.net), which covers the north county coastal areas; and the San Diego Central Chapter (sandiegocentralloal@gmail.com), which covers everything in-between.

To learn more about Love On A Leash, visit www.loveonaleash.org or San Diego Love On A Leash’s website at www.sandiegoLOAL.com.