Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc.

Performing Canine Magic

aka C.A.T. Dogs   |   Oakland Park, FL   |  http://www.catdogs.org

Mission

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc. (“C.A.T.") is a non-profit human service organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of children and adults by achieving specific physical, cognitive, social, or emotional goals through the use of certified pet therapy teams.

Notes from the nonprofit

The organization is unique and different than other pet therapy organizations in that it requires Level 2 background checks for the handlers, provides a mentoring program to new volunteer teams, offers pet therapy preparation classes and mandates an additional advanced evaluation to work with children or special needs individuals.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director

Mrs. Monica Wesolowski

Main address

1040 NE 45th St

Oakland Park, FL 33334 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-0700622

NTEE code info

Animal Related Activities N.E.C. (D99)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Senior Centers/Services (P81)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Canine Assisted Therapy is working to address several community needs: 1st and 2nd grade students are not reading at grade level. By sending in the therapy dogs we are helping the students build their reading fluency and obtain a life long love of reading. By sending the therapy dogs into hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, and hospices we are lowering the anxiety and blood pressure of residents and patients thereby increasing the overall well-being of our community, our therapy teams have been spending hundreds of hours with victims, survivors, and families to help offer comfort, decrease anxiety and provide a distraction from past trauma. The organization is also helping to decrease loneliness, depression and isolation in seniors.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Pack Reader and Read-A-Thons

Teams work with children to help achieve grade level reading including those learning English as a second language or children with self-esteem issues. The reading-challenged children in the program often view reading as a chore. But dogs don’t judge, so reading to them removes inhibitions and helps a child focus. It makes reading fun and creates a positive, memorable experience that stays with children for a long time.

Our Pack Reader Teams also conduct C.A.T. Read-A-Thons at elementary schools with teachers, volunteers, and reading coaches encouraging young readers to participate in the joy of reading by interacting with and reading to our wonderful therapy dogs in group settings. Several teams are deployed to a participating school for approximately two hours with the potential to reach and benefit more than 100 children.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., offers a variety of senior services to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice organizations, and even in-home visits. For seniors, the benefits of a furry companion visit can have life-changing effects that improve their overall health and quality of life.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "More than 50% of nursing home residents have no living close relative, and it is estimated that 60% of nursing home residents have no visitors.”

Activities performed during senior visits include petting, brushing, walking, and even just simply snuggling. These activities provide a means for staying engaged in everyday movement and behavior. This gives the individual purpose by providing care and love for the animal, while at the same time lowering stress levels, promoting socialization with others, and providing mental stimulation.

Population(s) Served
Seniors

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that develops as a result of a traumatic experience and involves symptoms of vigilance (being extra alert and aware of surroundings), numbness (having difficulty feeling emotions), and re-experiencing (flashbacks and nightmares). Many military personnel returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been traumatized by their experiences, and some will go on to develop PTSD.

It’s no surprise that a therapy dog can help to soothe and draw out even the most isolated personality, help traumatized veterans overcome emotional numbness, and open the lines of communication which can aid in the healing process.

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc.’s, therapy teams work with psychologists, social workers, and counselors, to provide support to veterans during group and individual counseling. The mere presence of C.A.T. therapy dogs is proving to be very beneficial in helping veterans cope with issues related to PTSD and other disorders. Therapy dogs also provide motivation and support for veterans in rehabilitation and medical facilities as well as those in skilled nursing care and hospice.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Individuals with Special Needs -
New statistics were released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2014 reporting that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Because ASD and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development – characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors – having structured contact with animals can be a great addition for educational and treatment plans.

Working with the University of Miami & Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), C.A.T. provides therapy teams working with the special needs population with advanced training and tools to ensure the interactions are understood and meaningful for both the therapy team and the recipient. Storybooks are created for each therapy team to make sure the children know what to expect when meeting and interacting with the dog. "Feelings Boards” help volunteers understand how verbal and nonverbal people are feeling about the experience. Also, First/Then scenarios are created to help teach procedures such as greeting a dog, and playing, walking, or grooming the dog.

College Stress Relief Events -
College students experience intense stress and anxiety during mid-term and finals weeks. Considerable research has indicated that when people interact with pets, their level of cortisol – or the stress hormone – decreases, while endorphins or – in the canine world, the happiness hormone – increases, which makes pet therapy at college campuses such a healthful idea. Lower stress = greater performance!

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
Students

C.A.T. implemented the first therapy dog program in the Broward County, FL court system. When appearing in court, the experience can be uncomfortable, especially for children. Having a therapy dog present both inside and outside the courtroom provides much-needed comfort to children involved in the Dependency System. To participate in this program, C.A.T.-certified therapy teams are required to pass the Advanced Certification and complete the 30-hour Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Training, which certifies and appoints volunteers to protect the rights and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding.

The therapy dogs also visit courtrooms, judges chambers and lobby areas of the courthouse.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

Camp Good Grief helps children ages 5 to 15 who are experiencing the death of a loved one.

Through a combination of therapeutic and fun activities with a therapy dog, children are able to learn new ways to cope with grief and begin their healing. They are able to rely on the therapy dog as an outlet for comfort and support while having fun.

Therapy dogs are brought in after mass trauma events to help comfort victims, survivors, and families. Therapy animals are also used in suicide prevention groups in high schools.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adolescents

Pet therapy teams spend time with patients and family in hospice care.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Therapy dogs provide stress relief during final exams.

Population(s) Served
Students

Children are taught the safe and appropriate way to approach a dog or to protect themselves if approached by a strange dog. After the presentation, each child has the opportunity to practice what they learned on a therapy dog.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers

TeleDog is a new online pet therapy program created in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The program allows us to continue our mission by providing time with a therapy animal on a virtual basis. It allows us to reach people across the country rather than just in our community. Virtual visits are provided to isolated seniors, nursing homes, students working on their reading skills can still practice reading to a therapy dog, etc.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Retired people

Where we work

Accreditations

National Therapy Dog Certification 2010

Awards

Hidden Hero 2020

Community Foundation of Broward

Affiliations & memberships

American Kennel Club 2010

Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce 2021

Nonprofit Executive Alliance of Broward 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average number of service recipients per month

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Family relationships, Health

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Due to COVID pandemic lockdown and social distancing guidelines per CDC recommendations

Number of community events or trainings held and attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Participated in 179 community and facility events, trainings and orientations.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To recruit more therapy teams to serve the over 100 facilities on our waiting list. There is a tremendous need in the community for more pet therapy teams and our goal is to be able to meet that need. To provide high quality therapeutic interactions to people in need in our community. To evolve to meet the changing needs of our community.

Partnering with veterinarians, trainers and other dog related resources to help recruit more qualified pet therapy teams.

Provide stress relief to corporate employees while at the same educating the public about our mission thus forming partnership to obtain corporate sponsorships.

Providing therapeutic interactions that will decrease blood pressure and anxiety and improve overall well-being in children and adults.

Canine Assisted Therapy has developed a corporate sponsorship packet which will be shared with area businesses. One of the sponsorship opportunities will be to have "Paws to De-Stress" at the workplace.

We have accomplished many new partnerships: TrustBridge Health (Hospice of Palm Beach County, Hospice of Broward County, Hospice by the Sea) selected Canine Assisted Therapy as the preferred therapy dog provider for all of their 1900 hospice patients. We have also partnered with Um-NSU C.A.R.D. (Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) to develop toolkits for the advanced therapy dog teams to use when working with children with special needs. We have partnered with Central Bark to deliver Bite Prevention Workshops to schools and day care centers.

Our organization was recognized as a Hidden Hero during 2020 by the Community Foundation of Broward for our work in helping decrease isolation and provide cheer to those who needed it most during COVID.

We plan on creating new programs and increasing the populations we serve.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Canine Assisted Therapy serves children, adults, and seniors. Included in that group are children with special needs, individuals with special needs, veterans with PTSD, youth in addiction and mental health treatment facilities, youth in homeless shelters, individuals in hospitals and nursing homes, victims of trauma, and women and children in domestic violence facilities.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Volunteers provided feedback in a survey that they wish to learn more about our board members. We have started highlighting a different board member in each of our newsletters for transparency.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback has helped us to understand the needs of our community better.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 8/30/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Wayne Berger

Nancy Brown

Fritch Foundation

Suzanne Gasse

Select Medical

Wayne Berger

Chair

Theresa Sebastian

Synovus Bank

Marvin Klasfeld

Treasurer

Debra Berger

Founder

Philip Verde

Truist

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 08/09/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/09/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.