Volunteer with Paws to R.E.A.D.

Have a passion for books? Have a desire to help children enjoy and improve their reading? Have a low-key dog who likes to listen? Share your bond with your dog, your love of children, and your love of reading by becoming a Paws to R.E.A.D.® team!

1000’s of children in the Richmond region are not reading at grade level, and you can be part of the solution to that problem. Become a R.E.A.D. team and tutor children with compassion in a nonjudgmental, positive and furry way!

Paws to R.E.A.D. teams consist of a handler/owner and his/her registered therapy dog.

We take seriously the safety of our teams, our canine partners and all those we work with. As such, we work only with registered and insured therapy dog teams.

What is a registered therapy dog team?

An owner and his/her own dog are defined as a team.

To become registered the team takes a recognized temperament test and attends at least 3 supervised therapy visits with a local tester/observer.

If the team passes the test and visits, it becomes registered in a national database and receives liability insurance coverage for its volunteer therapy work.

Prefer a flowchart of the process?

Become a Paws to R.E.A.D. Volunteer Chart 2017

How to become a registered therapy team with your dog?

  • Review the registration requirements from Alliance of Therapy Dogs organization
    • ATD registers therapy dogs nationwide; provides tester/observers and temperament testing for teams as well as liability insurance coverage for you when you volunteer.
  • Dogs must be at least 1 year of age
  • Dogs must have lived with you for at least 3 months
  • Dogs should have basic manners skills, be calm in distracted settings, very comfortable with children, and basically OK with other dogs
  • Review the temperament test from Alliance of Therapy Dogs
  • Schedule a time to be tested with a tester/observer in the Richmond area - these individuals are listed on the ATD website
  • We can provide recommendations for tester / observers
  • Follow all guidelines and procedures required of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs organization on all of your visits
  • Maintain your insurance coverage annually

OK - You're registered as a therapy team - what's next?

  • Contact Sprite's Hero to sign up for our next Paws to R.E.A.D. volunteer training class. We have 3 to 4 classes per year.
  • We use the R.E.A.D. training material created by Intermountain Therapy Animals organization which created the R.E.A.D. program in 1999.
  • All Paws to R.E.A.D. teams must purchase their own copy of the R.E.A.D. training manual from ITA.
  • Complete the Volunteer Application form for Sprite's Hero

Sprite's Hero, Inc. vol application Aug 2017

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Sprite's Hero Paws to R.E.A.D. Volunteer training classes:

  • Held at public libraries on Saturdays
  • From 9:30a - 3:30p
  • Take the OPEN BOOK training manual quiz, watch the ITA training DVD, and have LOTS of time for Q&A
  • Learn FUN strategies for supporting the reader with the assistance of your dog
  • Discuss the process of scheduling and conducting visits
  • Complete the packet for Intermountain Therapy Animals to become a registered R.E.A.D. team.

After you've been through the training:

  • You will observe a current Paws to R.E.A.D. team on a scheduled visit
  • You will do a visit with your dog and have a current Paws to R.E.A.D. volunteer as a buddy
  • We will work one-on-one with you based on your schedule and location to determine what facility would work best for you to visit
  • We have a growing waiting list of schools and libraries all over the Richmond region
  • Our school visits are once per week for 1-2 hours every week of the school year
  • Our library visits are usually evenings or Saturdays once per month year-round for 1 and 1/2 hours

Where do we visit?

Paws to R.E.A.D. currently has 41 volunteer teams visiting 14 elementary schools in Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Hopewell, Powhatan and Richmond.  We also have 19 monthly visits to 13 public libraries in Chesterfield, Henrico, New Kent, Pamunkey, and Richmond. The Better Housing Coalition also has a team visiting the Lincoln Mews community center after-school program twice a month.