It is a goal of Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) to provide registration, support, and insurance for members who are involved in volunteer animal assisted activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, visits to hospitals, special needs centers, schools, and nursing homes. Our objective is to form a network of caring individuals who are willing to share their special animals in order to bring happiness and cheer to people, young and old alike.

How to Become a Member of Alliance of Therapy Dogs   
Alliance of Therapy Dogs outlines the steps to membership on their website -  Here you will find information that you must read and understand prior to your test and first observation – specifically, the Member Guidelines, Member Code of Ethics and General Information and Hints & Tips.  Your Tester/Observer will go over these with you to ensure a solid understanding and readiness to begin testing.

Qualifications for Alliance of Therapy Dogs begin with a friendly dog, any breed or mix, and an owner/handler who has a desire to share it with those who are no longer able to own a pet, or are in a health facility separated or away from their pets.  Dogs must be at least one year of age to be tested and observed.

Alliance of Therapy Dogs Testing Process
The testing process begins with the prospective member completing a Background Check.  You can find the link to the site you need to go to here: Testing cannot begin until the background check has come back. Once you have received the “Congratulations” email, you can forward that to the Tester/Observer that you will be testing under and get your Initial Evaluation scheduled.

The Initial Evaluation is done by a Tester/Observer in your area. You and your dog will be evaluated together as a team.  This test includes a handling portion which tests your dog’s basic good manners and your handling skills (see the sample test video can be found on the bottom of this page:  If you and your dog pass, you move to the next step of interacting with residents or strangers on three supervised visits or observations.

Two of the three observations must be done in a medical facility.  The third observation may be performed anywhere at the discretion of the T/O or with a child if you wish to do the R.E.A.D. program or work with children.  The test and the first observation may be done on the same day. However, the second and third observation must be performed on different days.

Dogs must be kept on a 4 foot or shorter leash when tested or visiting a facility. Use of a traffic lead is recommended for large dogs.  Proof of current vaccinations, a negative fecal exam and a current vet exam are required.

When you’re ready to begin the process, contact a Tester/Observer (T/O) and send them the “Congratulations” background check email from Verified Volunteers.  They will schedule an appointment with you for the Initial Evaluation. A complete listing of T/Os can be found here -  The T/O will evaluate you and your dog together as a team. One must complement the other. Does the handler provide direction and guidance to their dog and keep their dog safe?  Does the dog look to the handler to provide that direction and guidance?

The T/O will give an opinion of whether or not the handler/dog team has the appropriate skills to safely interact with people in animal assisted and/or therapeutic settings. Final decision on membership will rest solely with ATD.

Registration Packet Submission
Following successful completion of the test and the three observations, you must submit all your paperwork to the ATD Office.  You may not participate in official visits until receiving notification and your membership package from ATD. Once you become a member, you are covered for liability under the ATD insurance plan while participating in visits under the name of ATD. Your dog must wear the official red heart-shaped ATD identification tag.  You must continue to comply with all the Governing Member Guidelines, Regulations and Policies, and provide the required annual veterinary care as set forth by ATD. Your dog must also be in compliance with state and local laws regarding, but not limited to, vaccinations and licensing.


For more information about getting certified through Alliance of Therapy Dogs in the Northern Florida area, please contact Lori Coleman (