About Paws 4 Therapy, Inc

The Company

Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. is unique in its approach and philosophy in bringing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) to the acute care hospital environment.  Visits can occur in most patient care areas such as medical and surgical floors, cardiac telemetry, in-patient, and out-patient oncology, pediatrics, ICU, CCU, etc..  At the completion of implementation, your facility will have its own volunteer dog/handler teams that will serve your facility exclusively.  We aim for AAT visits to occur 7 days a week, 365 days a year at the bedside, where they have the most impact. 

We have found a program is only as good as the volunteer dogs/handler teams selected.  In a very sensitive environment where risk management and infection control issues are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we believe in minimizing risk.  Therefore, we do not adopt the train the trainer approach for selecting your dogs.  We use professional dog trainer/behaviorists with 30+ years of experience to assist in the screening and selection of the volunteer dog/handler teams.

For most AAT programs, the selection is the final stage for accepting dogs into your facility.  At Paws 4 Therapy, Inc., this is just the beginning.  All applicants that pass our temperament testing attend, and must pass a mandatory thirty-hour training program which incorporates desensitizing the dogs to hospital equipment and surroundings,  teaching handlers policies and procedures, hospital safety and infection control.  Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. has also expanded its services to hospice and home health. 

Patty Kaplan, RN, BSN
Patty Kaplan founded Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. in 2001; which specializes in the development and operations of hospital-based AAT programs.  Patty was hired as a consultant by Edward Hospital, Naperville, IL to implement their first AAT program.  Since then, Edward’s program has grown to 100 volunteer dog-handler teams, conducted over 91,000 bedside visits, raised over $250,000 of charitable donations; and increased patient satisfaction scores 20-40%. She conducted a research study on “The Impact of Animal Assisted Therapy on the Use of Pain Medication After a Surgical Procedure in an Acute Care Hospital Environment”.  Her program was featured by JCAHO in 2005 as a “best practice.”  Patty has personally owned and trained three registered therapy dogs. Her program has been featured in Modern Healthcare Magazine, WGN News, ABC News, Advanced Nursing Practice Magazine, the Oprah Angel Network, and numerous local papers.  She has been a guest speaker at the ADVANCE Job Fair and Career Event, Illinois Benedictine University, College of Dupage and many community service groups. Currently, Patty is the Director of AAT at Edward Hospital and President of Paws 4 Therapy, Inc.  She has fully developed and implemented the AAT program in four acute care facilities and one mental health facility, and has served as a consultant in the development of several other institutional AAT programs.  Patty maintains a vast working knowledge of hospital policies and procedures, infection control, and risk management issues. The Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. program is the standard used in the new 2008 Illinois Department of Public Health Guidelines for AAT in the acute care hospital environment.

Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. partners with Dog Builders for the purpose of temperament testing, dog-handler team training, therapy dog registration, and canine behavior support. 
Meet The Trainers of Dog Builders
Susan Jakobs
President Dog Builders

Susan Jakobs
 is the behavior specialist who has collaborated with Jim Stendfelt and Paws 4 Therapy, Inc for six years.  Since 2001, she has screened over 700 dogs and trained over 175 specifically for the hospital environment.  She developed the specialized temperament-screening tool used for the evaluation and training of dog/handler teams.  Current clients include Edward Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital, OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, and Palos Community Hospital. She trained 10 dogs for use in specific, therapeutic programs at Linden Oaks Behavioral Healthcare Facility.  Units include the Child/Adolescent Units, S.A.F.E Alternatives (for treatment of individuals who self-injure), eating disorders, and adult inpatient programs.  In addition, Susan established polices for a resident therapy dog she trained for placement in a residential treatment center for eating disorders.

Susan trained with three master trainers to learn about all aspects of dog behavior. She has a knowledge base regarding clicker training, tracking, therapy work, puppy rearing, obedience, scent detection, and protection.    She continues to study and perform research regarding dog behavior.  She has worked with over 80 breeds ranging from the Chinese Crested to the Irish Wolfhound. 


Susan is considered “The people training dog trainer.”  Her primary responsibility is
educating the owner about their dog’s behavior and how it fits into their life.  An owner’s understanding of issues like pack order, socialization, separation anxiety, aggression, fear, positive and negative reinforcement, etc. is essential when creating a behavior modification program.