Amy Milne |

Does your fur-baby have what it takes to be a Hato Hone St John Therapy pet? 

If you think they do, and you live in the Wellington, Hutt Valley and Kapiti Coast regions then this could be their chance to shine. 

Hato Hone St John is currently looking to recruit volunteers and their pooches to join the programme.

Pam Hall, Hato Hone St John Community Care Manager, says the popular community service initiative offers the opportunity for volunteers to enhance the lives of others by sharing their animal companions with those who reside in rest homes, private and public hospitals, rehabilitation units, healthcare facilities, or attend local schools throughout New Zealand. 

“We are currently looking for volunteers and their canine friends to be part of the new Therapy Pets teams in Wellington, Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast. 

“We’re looking for dogs and owners that have a friendly, calm, and gentle temperament and are good with both the very young and the elderly. All pets will be evaluated by a qualified animal assessor to ensure they have a suitable temperament and training.” 

Ms Hall says the most common feedback from existing Hato Hone St John Therapy Pet volunteers is that they love seeing the joy their pet brings to the people they visit.  

“We hear a lot of stories from residents at the rest homes visited by our volunteers and pets, talking about how much they enjoyed the experience for days and weeks afterwards.” 

Ms Hall says that regular affection from a visiting animal can make a significant difference in the physical and emotional health of the residents. 

“Animals don’t judge or criticise, and they treat everyone equally. They aren’t shocked by human ailments, frailties, disabilities, or confusion. They can reduce the stress and fears associated with illness or old age and they offer unconditional love and friendship," Ms Hall says.

“The time commitment for this role is one hour per week. Therapy Pets also includes the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme, which is based in schools.

“For children, close physical contact with a dog helps to reduce stress. It shifts the child’s focus from the people in the room to the animal. The child can then experience learning as fun, informal and less intimidating because they are reading to a non-judgmental, unconditionally devoted listener."

If you are interested and have the perfect pooch, please apply online at and search for job #50670. 


  • The Therapy Pets programme was first introduced into New Zealand in 1988 by Bob Kerridge (SPCA) and his late wife Iris, after being impressed with a similar programme operating in San Francisco, USA. 
  • In 2003 the SPCA partnered with St John to grow the service within the Auckland area and ultimately throughout the country. This partnership has now ceased, and St John solely operates the Pet Therapy service throughout New Zealand. 



  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area 
  • St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, St John operates a significant number of community health programmes, social enterprises and other activities which help build community resilience.


Amy Milne

Hato Hone St John, External Communications Specialist

M 027 5027523



St John media team

PH 0800 756 334

Subscribe to our RSS FeedHHSJ Website Donate WidgetSt John first aid TrainingFeel Safe with a St John medical alarm