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Animal-Assisted Therapy: Paging Dr. Dog

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The ASPCA points out “Therapy animals are not service or assistance animals and are not granted the same legal rights of access.” Unlike service animals, therapy animals don’t help their owners perform tasks and are therefore not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Dr. Fine’s successful use of therapy animals in treating children is documented in The Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy. “If an animal wants to engage with you, petting that animal actually reduces its cortisol levels and produces oxytocin,” he says.

In 1984, along with his colleague Aaron Katcher, he published the first review of studies on AAT. “In that paper, Beck and Katcher warned about the state of research purporting to demonstrate the effectiveness of animals as therapists. They argued that investigators needed to carefully separate the feel-good temporary recreational benefits of interacting with animals from the long-term clinical benefits of AAT. And they were particularly concerned that too many enthusiastic investigators were asking”How can I demonstrate the therapeutic effect of pets?” rather than the more appropriate question, “Do pets have a therapeutic effect?”.

Pets for Vets is dedicated to supporting veterans and providing a second chance for shelter dogs by rescuing, training and pairing them with veterans who could benefit from a companion animal.

Once a dog is selected, the trainer takes it home to socialize and train it before introducing the companion animal to the veteran.

While a wide variety of animals can be wonderful companions or pets, not every animal is suited to therapy work.


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Post Author: Carla Parsons

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