At the heart of human-canine companionship lies potential for greatness at both ends of the leash. Our therapy dog certification and volunteer program is designed to tap into this potential, and bring out the “best self” in each dog, each volunteer, and each community member whose life is touched by interacting with our Miracle Mutts therapy dogs.

Our therapy dog program is unique

Marley’s Mutts is honored and proud to be the first and only dog rescue sanctioned by the American Kennel Club to certify therapy dogs! This means we select, evaluate, test, train, and certify human-canine therapy dog teams who work in the community, in a variety of therapeutic and educational capacities. Teams earn the “50 community visits” required for certification by engaging with children and adults in classrooms, assisted living facilities, libraries, addiction recovery centers, college campuses, cancer centers, community events, and facilities for individuals with disabilities.

The ideal Miracle Mutts Therapy Dog candidate will:

  • Love nothing more than people (all people, including strangers -- young, old, and every age in between)
  • Be highly sociable with people and other dogs
  • Be non-reactive toward loud noises, sudden movement, or being hugged or petted by strangers.
  • Be confident, friendly, and calm in virtually any environment or circumstance
  • Walk nicely on a loose leash
  • Respond to basic commands and communicate well with you, his/her handler, in distracting environments
  • Be at least one year old, fully vaccinated, and spayed or neutered
  • Be clean and smell nice for public appearances, and be 100% trained to eliminate outdoors

* Be able to pass the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test:

How do I apply?

If the above describes your dog, and you’d like to apply for the program, you’ll want to start by filling out the application below.

We will reply, letting you know whether or not your dog qualifies to attend a Miracle Mutts T.E.S.T. (Temperament Evaluation & Skills Test), which we hold *quarterly. We will email you regarding exactly when and where the next T.E.S.T. will take place. Your dog must be at least one year old to qualify.

Therapy Dog Orientation & Preparation/ Mandatory & Elective Classes

If your dog passes the T.E.S.T., you will be asked to complete three Orientation classes before beginning to earn community service hours toward certification. You will have the option of taking several additional classes as *“electives”. All of these educational sessions will prepare you and your dog to be the best and most effective therapy dog team you can be!

* We may require that you take one or more of the elective courses offered, as part of your Miracle Mutts training, based on our observation of you and your dog during Orientation classes.

What if I don’t have a dog but still want to participate?

We are always in need of alternate handlers. These are volunteers who pick certain Miracle Mutts up from home when their humans are at work, or otherwise engaged, and bring them to participate in Miracle Mutts activities. If you are interested in becoming an alternate handler, please fill out the application form, and enter ALTERNATE HANDLER in the Notes section. We will ask that you attend orientation classes as well.

Therapy Dogs ARE NOT Service Dogs

Please keep in mind, if your goal is to have your dog trained and/or certified as a service dog, this is not the program for you. A therapy dog is allowed -- as half of a working, human-canine team -- to go to specific organizations (that have been pre-approved beforehand) for outreach and educational purposes. Therapy dogs do not have public access rights like service dogs do. For more information on the legal designation of a service dog, check out Assistance Dogs International: For more information on what Therapy Dogs do, check out AKC’s page:

We appreciate your support!

Applying for the therapy dog program doesn’t cost anything; nor do the three Orientation classes you and your dog will attend if selected after the initial T.E.S.T.

Should your dog be approved to move forward in the program at the end of Orientation, *we ask for a donation of $150 to register for the program. Donations to Marley's Mutts (specifically, to the “Miracle Mutts Program”) are tax deductible, and help support our goal of educating, inspiring, and empowering the kids and adults of Kern County.

*The suggested donation for alternate handlers is $75.

Fill out my online form.