How to Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with The Center for Human-Animal Interaction

The following information is provided to give you an overview of the Center and how to become a volunteer.

Housed within the Department of Psychiatry, in the VCU School of Medicine, the Center for Human-Animal Interaction is the only center of its kind based in a medical school. Dr. Sandra Barker is the Director of the Center and, with Center Staff and The Executive Committee, coordinates the many activities of the Center. Representatives from other parts of the University and community are involved with the Center along with, of course, our wonderful volunteers.

Our mission is to enhance health and well-being through human-animal interaction. To accomplish that mission, the Center's work is focused in three areas:

  • Education-medical school electives, psychiatry resident electives, internships, and other educational activities;
  • Research-interdisciplinary studies on the health effects of human-animal interaction; and
  • Service- Dogs on Call (DOC) canine-assisted therapy/activities and therapy dog visitation program, pet loss telephone support for clients of sponsoring groups, consultation on animal-assisted interventions and pet loss issues 

Volunteer opportunities exist in all of the Center's activities. To become a DOC team, you and your dog must satisfy the volunteer requirements outlined in VCU Medical Center policies and procedures. Our teams visit provide services to most areas of the VCU Medical Center and are welcomed by staff and patients alike. It is truly a great volunteer experience.

To volunteer in other Center activities, please complete our Center Volunteer Form. You may submit the completed form to chai@vcu.edu or fax to 804-628-0619

If you have any questions about volunteering with the Center, please contact us at chai@vcu.edu.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer!

The Center depends on the support of individuals like you who understand the importance of the human-animal bond.