REX Fur Friends

volunteer and dog bonding

The UNC REX Fur Friends Program allows certified therapy dogs to visit patients either in the morning or afternoon Monday-Friday. Our Fur Friends therapy teams include the dog’s handler, the certified dog, and an additional volunteer liaison who provides support for the dog team. This exciting program not only allows certified dogs and their owners to volunteer, but also allows for those who do not have a certified therapy dog to participate in the program by becoming a Fur Friends Escort. Whether you are a therapy dog owner or interested in being an escort, the UNC Rex Fur Friends program provides immeasurable support to patients, their families, and even to co-workers throughout the organization.

Benefits of Animal Assisted Activities

The dogs are a welcome distraction and help reduce anxiety that can accompany hospital visits. UNC REX Fur Friends gives patients the opportunity to interact safely with our volunteer dogs and receive their unconditional love and acceptance in the hopes of making the hospital environment more comfortable and less stressful.

Additional benefits of pet therapy are:

  • Positive therapeutic experiences that help minimize the stress of the hospital environment
  • Reduced anxiety and enhanced coping skills by providing a distraction from illness and hospitalization
  • Increased normalization of the hospital experience by making it more "home-like"

Team Training

The training process can be labor intensive in the beginning to become part of a UNC Rex Fur Friends Team, but the rewards are tremendous. Dogs are required to be registered with one of the following organizations: Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International.

In addition, all UNC Rex Fur Friends must undergo an annual veterinarian exam and be up to date on all immunizations. Both Fur Friends dog owners and Fur Friends Escorts are kept to a high standard to ensure that safety and cleanliness is maintained throughout the organization, and the training process reflects this elevated standard.

How to Apply

  • Prior to applying, the dog must be registered with one of the following outside organizations Pet Partner, Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Therapy Dogs International.
  • Whether you are a dog owner or someone wishing to be a Fur Friends Escort, the online adult application must be completed to become a volunteer with UNC Rex. On the application, under the Volunteer Services Areas Preferred, please list Fur Friends as your preferred volunteer assignment.
  • The dog team must commit to at least two visits per month.
  • Volunteers in this area must be 21 years old or older.
  • Volunteers must complete all orientation guidelines and requirements, which includes a pre-volunteer drug screening.
  • The dog team must adhere to all UNC REX policies and procedures, including dress code.
  • Volunteers must be responsible for finding substitutes, when unavailable, for assigned shift.
  • Volunteers must complete a health assessment to screen for Tuberculosis (TB), Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Varicella (Chicken Pox) and Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), as well as a yearly flu shot.
  • Acceptance into the program is contingent upon submission of two references from adults who are familiar with your work ethic and character. The person completing the reference form must be 21 years or older and cannot be a relative.

Apply Today

After reading the requirements, you may apply to the REX Fur Friends program through our online adult application.