Note: Changes have been made to Prescreen Policy effective 4/26/13
Joining West Michigan Therapy requires some planning and preparation, but it is basically a three-step process:
- Your dog must first be prescreened to ensure it has the temperament and intermediate skills to be successful in our class and as a therapy dog.
- Dogs that pass the prescreening can take our eight-week Introduction to Pet Therapy training course ending with a final evaluation of dog and handler.
- Class graduates need to shadow an experienced handler on three visits to demonstrate that they are ready to officially become a member. Read our Membership Guidelines to learn the rules of membership.
Step 1: Prescreen Evaluations
At a prescreen evaluation, handlers are evaluated on their interactions with their dog, evaluator and the environment. The dog is evaluated on its obedience, temperament and socialization skills. Therapy class course work is based on the ability of the dog to perform intermediate level obedience skills. Review the Prescreen Test to identify you dog is able to consistently meet the "WMTD" level of scoring on all the test items.
Prescreen evaluations and classes are offered in Grand Rapids and Fremont. Your first step is to register for a prescreen evaluation. There is a $30 charge for prescreens starting with the 8/17/2013 testing date. If your team is successful, we will credit your class fee the $30 and then sign you up for the next available training course that you are able to attend. Please review the FAQ for Prescreen Entry - How to select a Time Slot sheet to help determine which time slot to select for your sized dog.
Note: When completing the registration process, it will ask for immediate payment. There is a $3 credit card fee the website administrator charges that is above the $30 prescreen event fee. The site will allow you thirty minutes to enter your payment or your slot will be automatically cancelled. You will receive a confirmation email from ClubExpress.com indicating your payment was processed. If you do not receive a confirmation, please contact Terrilynne for further follow-up.
To pay by check or money order, please print off the By-Mail Registration Form , and indicate the time slot you prefer, and two alternatives, as we cannot guarantee your first choice will still be available your check or money order is received.
The refund policy for prescreens (including canceling and moving to another testing date): 30+ days prior to test date (excluding any credit card fees) - full refund, 29-15 days prior = $15 refund or credit, 14 or less days prior = no refund or credit.
You must have owned your dog or worked (obedience skills) with the dog you are handling for at least six months prior to prescreening. If you need to schedule a prescreen test for a future date to meet this requirement, or are not available on the next upcoming testing date, please click on the future prescreen testing date that is applicable for your availability:
Prescreens for those wishing to take our course in Fremont are done by individual appointment with our trainer, Barb Geno. Contact Barb directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 2: Introduction to Pet Therapy Training Course
Our eight-week Introduction to Pet Therapy Course will cover introduction to medical equipment and scents, dog to dog socialization, discussions on current therapy techniques and therapy opportunities available in the local community including medical facilities, assisted living and rehabilitation facilities, schools and libraries. Testing is done at the final session. See what’s covered on the WMTD Membership Test.
The course fee is $60.00 with handler/dog teams receiving a course manual, training bandana for the dog, as well as all supplies needed for the class. We register per dog. There can be up to three handlers per dog with no additional fee to the $60. Junior handlers are 10-17 years old. (Only one handler needs to prescreen). Payment of the course fee is required to secure enrollment. Cancellation or transferring to another class series less than two weeks prior to a class start date will result in a $25 cancellation fee. A copy of your dog’s current immunization records from your veterinarian is required to ensure your dog has a current rabies vaccination, DHLLP, and has had a negative fecal float test within the past 12 months. Bordatella (corona-virus) is strongly recommended for dogs participating in animal assisted activities.
Grand Rapids classes are Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center, 750 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Maximum enrollment: 15 handler/dog teams.
Fremont classes are Mondays from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Newaygo Medical Care Facility (NMCF), 4465 W 48th Street, Fremont, MI 49412. Maximum enrollment: 6 handler/dog teams.
When you pass your prescreen, we will work with you to get you enrolled in a course. Handlers only the first two weeks. Dogs will join us in week three. Handlers must attend at least seven of the eight weeks to be eligible to test for the WMTD probationary membership.
Dogs must attend Week Three with at least one of the registered handlers for their team. If dogs are sick or in heat that week, the team will need to be assigned to a later class series , as this class is not easily made up. Please review your calendars to verify the week three date of the class series before committing to a class series to avoid a cancellation fee.
For your information, here is the upcoming schedule of available classes:
Spring 2013 - class is full
Fremont: Mondays: from 6:30 - 8:30pm, April 8 - May 27 at Newaygo Medical Care Facility (NMCF), 4465 W 48th Street, Fremont, MI 49412. Maximum enrollment: 6 handler/dog teams.
Grand Rapids: Thursdays, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, from May 9th - June 27th at Spectrum Health Rehab & Nursing Center - Fuller Ave. - 750 Fuller Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. (Week 3: May 23) - class is full
Fremont: Mondays: from 6:30 - 8:30pm, August 5 - September 30th at Newaygo Medical Care Facility (NMCF), 4465 W 48th Street, Fremont, MI 49412. Maximum enrollment: 6 handler/dog teams.
Grand Rapids: Thursdays, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, from August 22nd - Oct 10th at Spectrum Health Rehab & Nursing Center - Fuller Ave. - 750 Fuller Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. (Week 3: Sept 5)
Grand Rapids: Thursdays, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, from Oct 24th - Dec 19th at Spectrum Health Rehab & Nursing Center - Fuller Ave. - 750 Fuller Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Note: No class November 28th for Thanksgiving Week. (Week 3: November 7)
Step 3: Shadow Visits
Handler/dog teams are allowed up to three months to complete three shadow visits under the supervision of an experienced WMTD member who serves as an evaluator. Course graduates will get a complete list of shadow locations and instructions on how to contact a shadow evaluator to line up a visit. There is a $25.00 non-refundable Prospective/Probationary Member fee. This fee will, however, be applied toward the full annual membership fee for those teams successfully completing their prospective / probationary membership requirements. Full membership is only $25 annually and includes coverage under the organization’s $1 million general liability insurance policy.
Special Note: A few of our programs require additional testing and registration with Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society), a national pet therapy organization. Learn More About Pet Partners and local testing opportunities.
Questions about the prescreen, class or trial member process?
Contact Terrilynne Lymburner, WMTD Director of Education & Training, at email@example.com