The cost of providing therapy dog services is significant both in terms of out of pocket expenses and the value of our time. I’m sensitive that many of our readers view therapy dog handling as a volunteer service.
However, it’s clear to me that demand is outstripping supply. Let’s look at these two variables:
- Growing empirical scientific research, created by our new abilities to measure physical changes in the human body, validate the physical and emotional value of pet therapy in a variety of therapeutic settings.
- Increased stress and mental illness have motivated institutional leaders (working at airports, courts, and schools, for example) to add pet therapy services to their operation.
- Professional mental health and social workers have embraced pet therapy as a useful and valid tool as observed in professional association publications.
- The public is more award of animal-assisted therapy. Two years ago, I received about one media publication per week mentioning the subject. I now receive one to two news articles per day.
UNFILLED THERAPY DO HANDLER REQUESTS
- Most regularly reoccurring hospital therapy dog schedules do not cover all the shifts, medical units or less desired days of the week including holidays and weekend.
- One-off call outs go unfilled because of a lack of handlers.
- I have observed an increasing number of therapy dog recruitment advertisements being placed in various media.
Recalling the lesson taught in my Econ 101 class umpteen years ago, prices increase when demand goes up and supply doesn’t.
Perhaps it’s time to dramatically increase the supply in order to meet the growing demand.
I suspect handler supply would increase if people could either make a living, or at a minimum, offset their costs.
Have an opinion to share? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.