Programs & Services - Paws and Pals



The Help Group is pleased to offer Paws & Pals for Kids with Autism, a volunteer-supported pet intervention program for children enrolled in its autism schools, Kids Like Me recreational camps, teen residential and young adult transitional living programs. Paws and Pals offers a unique approach for teachers, therapists and qualified volunteers to support and engage young people with social and communication challenges in dynamic and meaningful ways.

Paws and Pals volunteers visit weekdays or weekends during school, after-school and evening hours. Locations include The Help Group’s Sherman Oaks, Culver City, and Van Nuys Campuses, in addition to the American Jewish University in Bel Air. All visits are coordinated and supervised by Help Group administrators and staff.

Benefits of Pet Intervention

Pet intervention can benefit young people with autism and other special needs in many ways:

  • Fosters social communication and language development
  • Supports friendship and peer relationship-building skills
  • Encourages classroom participation
  • Positively affects a child’s attention and focus
  • Supports the development of fine and gross motor skills
  • Supports transitioning into a new environment or learning a new task
  • Offers a comforting presence that a child will identify as predictable and safe


How to Volunteer

Join our growing team of volunteers and help bring the positive benefits of therapy dogs to children with autism. Paws and Pals volunteers work side-by-side with The Help Group’s highly qualified teams of educators, aides and therapists to bring the positive rewards of pet intervention to young people. Volunteers are dedicated to fostering the potential of each child and engaging them in creative ways to maximize learning.

Volunteers and their pets are certified by the nationally-recognized organization, The Alliance of Therapy Dogs. and commit to visiting for two hours, once a week, in a variety of schools and programs offered year-round at The Help Group. Prior experience in settings with children is preferred.

Download Brochure

Contact Us

To learn more about the program or how to become a Paws and Pals volunteer, please fill out the form below or contact Ann Avidor, Volunteer Coordinator, at 818.779.5233 or Lisa Manafian, Special Projects Coordinator, at 818.779.5212.

Volunteer Form

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at The Help Group! Please fill out this form, and we will get in touch with you soon.