Q: I have an animal that I think would be perfect for therapy work. How can I volunteer with National Capital Therapy Dogs?
To visit with NCTD, you and your animal must first train and be evaluated as a NCTD Volunteer Team. See how to Become a Pet Therapy Team.
Q: What are the benefits of volunteering with NCTD?
NCTD provides numerous benefits, including:
- We have already established relationships with facilities in the Baltimore-Washington area as well as Southern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula. These facilities know about National Capital Therapy Dogs and are comfortable having our animals visit their facilities.
- We provide constant training via NCTD open floors. These classes are intended for both new teams as well as experienced teams. These events, in addition to allowing the animals to socialize, provide a great deal of information beyond the NCTD training. And most importantly, they're fun!
- We visit some facilities as a group. This allows teams to meet and learn from each other. It also tends to provide better visits, since we can send the right team to visit the right people.
- We have social events to get together just for fun. The handlers get to share stories, and the dogs get to play and sometimes get to go "wiener bobbing"!
- We send out the NCTD newsletter, a volunteer roster, and other information to all volunteers on a periodic basis. This keeps volunteers informed of the latest NCTD information.
Q: Can I volunteer with someone else's animal?
Yes! The same procedures apply to become a NCTD Volunteer team. The only additional requirement is a note from the owner giving permission for you to work with the animal.
Q: I have a cat/rabbit/llama/etc. that would be perfect for therapy work. Can I work with NCTD?
Yes! Other animals are welcomed in our organization. We have several places that they may be able to visit... nursing homes and assisted living facilities generally welcome them. Each hospital facility that we visit may have restrictions (e.g., for cats, front claws removed or indoor cat only). Please Contact Us for more information.
Q: When is the next Volunteer Training Class / Volunteer Team Evaluation / NCTD Open Floor?
You can find the complete list of NCTD training classes, evaluations, and other events on the NCTD Calendar of Events.
Q: I don't have much spare time to visit. If I become an NCTD volunteer, what's expected of me?
The minimum requirements for maintaining an active status in NCTD are:
- Maintaining NCTD Volunteer registration (each team is reviewed annually and must renew registration every three years)
- Attending at least one NCTD open floor or other approved training opportunity per calendar year
- Assuming you visit an NCTD facility with your animal, consistently visiting the facility. (We visit most facilities 1-2 times per month.) A typical visit lasts about one hour, although time to get your partner ready, driving time, etc. add to the required time commitment.
Of course, if you have more time, we encourage you to:
- Attend more open floors (we recommend attending as many as possible)
- Visit additional facilities, as long as you can commit to consistently visiting the facilities;
- Attend NCTD social events, such as the awards night and the annual picnic;
- Assist with events, such as team evaluations, NCTD demonstrations, etc.
- Become involved with the NCTD Board of Directors to help shape the future of NCTD
Q: Is NCTD hiring?
No. NCTD is 100% volunteer-based, we have no paid positions.
Q: How much does it cost to volunteer with NCTD?
There is no cost to volunteer with NCTD once you become a NCTD Volunteer. Becoming a NCTD Volunteer does involve cost; Please see our Costs and Fees page for details.
Additional costs may be required for veterinary checks/shots, additional team evaluations (if the team does not pass the first time), NCTD gear, and NCTD "uniform".
Q: Is financial assistance available to offset the costs of becoming a NCTD Volunteer?
Financial Assistance may be available through NCTD's "Gandalf Fund". Individuals requesting assistance are to write a letter to the NCTD Board of Directors for review when submitting training/evaluation forms.
Q: What is the NCTD uniform?
For handler: While there is no official NCTD "uniform", we request that you be dressed neatly but comfortably when you visit with your animal. Slacks or nice jeans with a nice shirt and comfortable shoes are recommended. NCTD also offers "NCTD gear" at cost as well as clothing with the NCTD logo through Lands End. Wearing NCTD shirts provides a quick means of identification, plus it gives the group a more professional appearance.
For pet: All dogs should wear a green harness or green NCTD vest.
Please note that in some cases, an individual facility may have their own specific dress requirements. Many require that we wear a shirt with the NCTD logo. Others may have general restrictions such as no jeans or shorts. So be sure to ask about it when applying to a facility.
Q: Can I donate money to NCTD? Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes and yes. We do have fiscal obligations, so contributions are appreciated to help offset our operating expenses. Donations to NCTD are usually tax-deductible; please consult your financial adviser for details.