Nonprofit Veterinary Clinic & Outreach Center: 4635 West Richland Plaza Dr., Bloomington, In 47404

For Appointments, or Pantry questions, please call: 812-333-6242, ext 2

To Fax Veterinary Records: 812-935-5059

*Administration Address: 3410 South Walnut St., Bloomington, IN 47401

*Staff hours may vary. Please call to confirm. Dropping off a donation? We have a donation bin outside of our door that's available any time!

Mailing Address: PO Box 1334, Bloomington, IN 47402​​

**We do not have a shelter.**

    For City shelter hours, adoptable animals, lost/found pets, and animal control, call City of Bloomington Animal Care & Control at 812.349.3492.

© 2016 Monroe County Humane Association




Step 2: Complete V.I.Paws Handler Training

V.I.Paws Handler Training is required for all new and renewing V.I.Paws handlers. Animals are not permitted at this training. V.I.Paws Handler Training will include education on the following topics:
  • V.I.Paws Handler Expectations and V.I.Paws Volunteer Requirements
  • Being Your Animal’s Best Advocate
  • Recognizing and Handling Your Animal’s Stress
  • V.I.Paws Community Visit Requirements and Expectations
  • Working with Children; Detecting Abuse and Neglect in Children and What to Do
  • Senior and Alzheimer’s Support
  • Grief and Loss Counseling
  • Tips for a Successful Therapy Visit
  • Practice Mock Therapy Visit Scenarios
  • Resources and Support

V.I.Paws Team Evaluation Fees

New V.I.Paws Teams​

  • $30 Handler Training (per person) 


Renewing V.I.Paws Teams​

  • $15 Handler Training (per person)


Current Pet Partner Team, joining as V.I.Paws 

  • $20 Handler Training (per person)

Why become a registered V.I.Paws Therapy Team?

V.I.Paws is a volunteer-based program of the Monroe County Humane Association. This program was developed in effort to share the support and success of the human-animal bond and provide animal related activities and therapies in the community. V.I.Paws is a specialized group that consists of trained volunteer handler and animal teams volunteering in the community doing casual meet and greets and often goal-directed interactions with others. Currently MCHA only evaluates dogs and cats to become registered V.I.Paws therapy teams. V.I.Paws teams are active in nursing homes, health care facilities, libraries, schools, camps, clubs, community events, and many other situations to share the physical and emotional benefits of the human-animal bond.
Numerous studies and widespread testimonials indicate that many humans feel better in the presence of pets and other domesticated animals. Animal assisted activities and therapy are widely associated with reduced stress levels, reduced blood pressure and anxiety. Animals often make people less lonely and bring out positive social characteristics. Loneliness is a common problem in long-term care facilities and strong evidence shows that animal assisted therapy can to some degree reverse or decrease loneliness. Animals are not judgmental and many people find it easier to socialize with animals. V.I.Paws animal assisted activities and therapy provides interactions in a variety of different environments for the same purpose of improving motivation, assisting in education, enhancing quality of life, alleviating depression, anxiety and social isolation. Animal assisted therapy is commonly used with other therapies and some say, it may be successful with healing responses where other therapies may have been ineffective.


Step 1: Prepare for V.I.Paws Team Evaluations                         

Animal General Requirements:                     

  • All dogs and cats must be at least one year of age and must have lived with handler for at least six months.

  • Animals must be friendly to people and other animals. Animals should seek out and enjoy human companionship.

  • Animals must be clean, healthy, free of infections, fleas, ticks, worms and wear a rabies tag and identification tag.

  • Animals must travel well and behave well on leash or in a carrier.

  • All animals must be responsive to handler and dogs are required to have a solid understanding of basic obedience. Handlers and canines are encouraged to take a positive reinforcement basic training class before evaluating to become a registered team. 

  • Although there are no cat or dog breed restrictions, any dog trained for protection, including for sports such as schutzhund are not allowed to join V.I.Paws. Any cat known to give love bites or is aggressively affectionate is not a good fit for therapy work.

  • Animals fed a raw protein diet are not allowed to join V.I.Paws. An animal must be off of a raw protein diet for a minimum of 4 weeks before evaluation to become a registered V.I.Paws Team.

  • Animals with physical disabilities may train and evaluate for registration with V.I.Paws. A handler may request evaluation accommodations prior to evaluation if needed. For example, a dog that requires a cart to walk and is not physically able to sit or down may be allowed to stand during those exercises.


Handler General Requirements:

  • Handlers must be at least 18 years old to be evaluated and participate as a handler in a registered V.I.Paws Therapy Team. 

  • A registered V.I.Paws therapy team must complete a minimum of two hours of volunteer work annually. A visit log must be submitted to the V.I.Paws Coordinator monthly, even if zero volunteer hours were performed.

  • It is important to understand and recognize stress in your therapy animal. You are your animal’s best advocate. Registered V.I.Paws teams cannot visit more than 2 hours in length, with a maximum of 4 hours in one day.

  • When providing animal assisted therapy it is important to be respectful and practice active listening skills and confidentiality. Overall, MCHA V.I.Paws mission is to positively impact people and improve human health through animal assisted activities. Let the animals do most of the work!

  • All handlers are required to complete handler training before evaluation.

Learn more about becoming a V.I.Paws Therapy Team here. 

Take a quiz to see if you and your animal would be a good fit!

Step 3: Attend V.I.Paws Team Evaluations

A team is ready for V.I.Paws Team Evaluations when the animal can perform all evaluation requirements without the use of training equipment, including treats. The handler should be aware of animal stress signs and know expectations and requirements of registered V.I.Paws community visit. Within six months before evaluation, all handlers must complete V.I.Paws Handler Training. 


Guidelines prohibit allowing potential registered V.I.Paws teams to access the physical evaluation but handlers can be informed about skills to generally prepare for. Overall, the handler and animal team should be friendly, reliable, predictable and controllable at all times.


 Before an evaluation the handler must provide the following items to the V.I.Paws Team Evaluator:

  • Completed and signed handler questionnaire, acknowledgement of liability and MCHA volunteer agreement form

  • Animal’s current rabies vaccination certificate. (A rabies tag alone is not enough because the exact dates are not on the tag.)


General guidelines for the handler:

  • Handlers must be friendly with others by smiling, making casual conversation and eye contact.

  • Handlers must be aware of animal’s at all times and ensure animal’s well being while keeping others in mind.

  • Handlers may never yell or use a loud voice, profanity or forcefully jerk on the animal’s leash.

  • Handlers must demonstrate gentle interaction with the animal and speak in a natural tone of voice.

  • Handlers must appear confident, relaxed and engaged.

  • Handlers may talk to, praise, cue, encourage, and touch the animal as needed through exercise but cannot use toys or food treats.


General guidelines for the animal:

  • Allow friendly stranger to engage in everyday situation with handler.

  • Allow friendly petting from a stranger with proper greeting manners. 

  • Allow being groomed, brushed and handled by strangers (at least three).

  • The animal must recover appropriately after two different startling situations.

  • The animal must allow exuberant petting, restraining hug, staggering and gesturing, angry yelling, being bumped, or surprised from behind.

  • The animal cannot show signs of shyness, resentment, aggression, or fear.

  • The animal must be potty-trained and cannot eliminate inside a building.

  • The animal should demonstrate non-threatening body posture.

  • The animal should have a soft body, relaxed face, friendly or relaxed tail.

  • The animal may only vocalize once or twice and must stop once the handler requests. This includes barking, meowing, whining or other vocalizations. 

  • The animal may give a lick or two but should not lick frequently or often.

  • Cats are not allowed to get overly playful, stressed with travel in pet carrier nor aggressively affectionate such as love bites and demanding pawing.

  • Dogs must respond to one-time commands without the use of treat lures including look, sit, down, 30-second stay, and come when called.

  • Dogs must be able to greet and act politely around other dogs.

  • Dogs must walk politely on leash without pulling or jerking from animal or handler. The animal should walk politely without training equipment. 

  • Dogs must be able to walk with handler near and through a crowd of people.


Most importantly the animal’s behavior must be reliable and controllable at all time and together, animal and handler work as a team. Each handler and animal team will have a different level of experience, comfort, talent, and confidence in each other but all teams must perform consistently and appropriately.

V.I.Paws Team Evaluation Fees

New V.I.Paws Teams​

  • $30 Team Evaluation 


Renewing V.I.Paws Teams​

  • $15 Team Evaluation


Current Pet Partner Team, joining as V.I.Paws 

  • $20 Team Evaluation



Step 4: After passing V.I.Paws Team Evaluations, Complete V.I.Paws Team Registration

A registration packet is given to teams at the time of passing V.I.Paws Team Evaluations. After passing evaluation, teams have up to two weeks to complete and turn in registration to MCHA before becoming an active registered V.I.Paws Team.


Handler Registration and Team Registration Fees

Handler’s contact information including street address


Background Check

More details on background check will be included with registration


Animal Registration

Animal’s information including breed, age, color, and equipment used


Volunteer Agreement Form

This form explains volunteer requirements and limitations.


Photo ID Badge, Website Profile and Photo

Write your own bio for MCHA’s website and submit photos for your required V.I.Paws ID Badge


T-shirt Order

All active teams are required to wear a V.I.Paws T-shirt or polo while volunteering in the community. Each team will be given a t-shirt and instructions to order a polo if desired, at your expense.


Animal Health Screening

This form verifies the animal seeks veterinary care regularly and is healthy, free of infection, disease, parasites, or behavioral concerns.


V.I.Paws Team Registration Frees

New V.I.Paws Teams

  • $100 Team Registration

  • $30 each additional Team Registration with same animal

  • $12 per Handler Background Check


Renewing V.I.Paws Teams

  • $75 Team Registration

  • $30 each additional Team Registration with same animal

  • $12 per Handler Background Check


Current Pet Partner Team, joining as V.I.Paws 

  • $100 Team Registration fee waived       (if team has at least one year left on registration with Pet Partners)

  • $30 each additional Team Registration with same animal

  • $12 per Handler Background Check


Any individual that volunteers at V.I.Paws Team Evaluations gets $25 off their next V.I.Paws Team Registration. Only one discount can be applied per V.I.Paws Team Registration.


Step 5: Begin Community Visits following V.I.Paws Team and Visit Requirements

Within two weeks of filing registration with MCHA and completing a background check, teams will be asked to pick up team items including required V.I.Paws T-shirt and V.I.Paws ID badge. Once a team has picked up necessary items, they are ready to volunteer in the community following all team and visit requirements.


Registered V.I.Paws Team requirements include:

  • Provide V.I.Paws Community visits in approved Indiana counties only

  • All active teams are encouraged to sign up for opportunities from the V.I.Paws Coordinator before scheduling outside opportunities. Although scheduling visits without the coordinator is allowed, V.I.Paws has many community partners we try to fulfill our commitments with first before establishing new commitments.

  • Approval from V.I.Paws Coordinator is required before establishing a new location for visiting. All new community partners must read and complete a facility contact form before V.I.Paws teams are allowed to visit.

  • Follow V.I.Paws dress code while visiting in community, including registered V.I.Paws logo apparel, handler ID badge and registered V.I.Paws animal ID or bandana.

  • Handlers must follow the approved equipment list for registered V.I.Paws therapy animals while visiting.

  • Active teams cannot visit for more than two hours at one time and no more than four hours in one day.

  • It is your responsibility to keep open communication with the V.I.Paws Coordinator, maintain a schedule that works for you, and submit an accurate monthly visit log.

  • Within 24 hours of any incident, handlers must compete and file a MCHA Incident Report with the V.I.Paws Coordinator or MCHA office staff.

  • Both handler and animal are required to take handler training and re-test every two years to maintain an active status. Handlers are required to follow MCHA volunteer requirements including a state and local background check each year.


Please note: MCHA hold the right to dismiss a handler from the MCHA V.I.Paws program before their registration expires if the handler: acquires a criminal charges, disrespects and continually dismisses MCHA requirements and limitations, or receives multiple complaints from community members.

We currently go to

Monroe County School Corporation Schools

Richland Beam Blossom Schools​​

Susie's Place Child Advocacy Center

Monroe County Public Libraries

Heathstone Health Campus

Indiana University Campus

Ivy Tech College Bloomington

Better Day Bloomington

Hospice Care


And many, many more!​