Pets Assisting with Healing (PAWH) volunteer program

Want to brighten the days of Children’s patients, along with your pet? Become a PAWH (Pets Assisting with Healing) volunteer. Pets in the PAWH program help patients with development & rehabilitation and brighten their stay in the hospital.


To participate in the PAWH program, volunteers need to:

  • Be Pet Partners certified.  Obedience training is highly recommended.
  • Complete a Children’s volunteer application.
  • With your pet, attend a one-on-one interview with a Children’s volunteer coordinator.
  • Complete volunteer orientation materials (provided after interview)
  • Attend program-specific, two-part training with an experienced volunteer:
    • Part 1: The new volunteer shadows the experienced volunteer and their pet
    • Part 2: The new volunteer and their pet work under supervision of the experienced volunteer
  • Commit to staying in the program for one year.

How You Can Help

Pet visits

Handlers and their pets are invited to visit patients and their families throughout the hospital. Most common areas that receive pet visits are inpatient floors, surgery areas, select waiting rooms, the emergency department and specialty units.

  • We offer flexible shifts & are glad to work with your schedule.  Typically, volunteer shifts are once a week for 2 hours (depending on need & pet’s stamina).
  • Campuses: St. Paul and Minneapolis

Development and physical medicine and rehabilitation (occupational therapy/physical therapy/speech therapy)

Occupational, physical and speech therapists request dogs to participate in Children’s therapy sessions. Dogs are used for motivation, sensory stimulation, balance, range of motion, feeding, etc.

  • Volunteer shifts: Shifts are variable. Most of the time, appointments are one hour per week on an ongoing basis; other appointments are one-time requests. Volunteers can opt to take on multiple requests (two per week, two per day, etc.) Rehab requests are Monday-Friday during business hours (8 a.m to 5 p.m.)
  • Campuses: St. Paul, Minneapolis, Roseville, Woodbury, Maple Grove and Minnetonka

Support From our Associations

Children’s Minnesota is grateful for the generous support that the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and Children’s Association – Minneapolis have given to the PAWH program. Whether volunteering their time to create custom scarves for each pet volunteer, donating funds to support the program or becoming certified PAWH volunteers themselves, these amazing groups help make pet therapy available for every child during their visit to Children’s.

Contact Volunteer Services


This program provided in part by a grant from PetSmart Charities.