Animal-Assisted Therapy

Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Animal Bond

girl with therapy dog on floor

Since the dawn of civilization, humans and animals have shared a powerful bond. Through the ages, this bond has been a source of solace and relief for those who suffer from physical or emotional pain. To explore the healing and learning power of this relationship, American Humane Association has been a leader in a field of study and practice known today as Animal-Assisted Therapy, or AAT.

Animal-Assisted Therapy has been shown to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect, patients undergoing chemotherapy or other difficult medical treatments, and veterans and their families who are struggling to cope with the effects of wartime military service.

With new research and a continued commitment to professionalism, AAT will continue to grow in mainstream healthcare acceptance and practice – one more tool to enhance individuals' well-being, and one more reminder of the vital and multifaceted role that animals can play in every aspect of our lives.

Helping Children of America's Military Families

Over two million children in the United States have had a parent deployed to active military duty since the start of the Global War on Terrorism.  “When one person joins, the whole family serves” is a common saying among military personnel.  Experts suggest that having a parent sent to an active combat zone with an undetermined return date may rank as one of the most stressful events in childhood. 

American Humane Association has realized the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in aiding our nation’s military since as early as 1945 when we supported a therapy dogs program to provide comfort and motivation to injured World War II soldiers.

Today American Humane Association’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Program collaborates with the National Military Family Association to provide trained therapy dogs at their Operation Purple camps which support children whose parent(s) are currently deployed. By seeking interaction and serving as a calming presence, therapy dogs help children communicate about the fear, anger and uncertainty they’re feeling. The children find non-judging, unconditional love and acceptance with their new friends and the experience is one they will never forget. See our camps in action here!

Animal-Assisted therapy research 

boy leaning over therapy dog

American Humane Association and Zoetis have launched a ground-breaking research study the Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) research project — to investigate the impacts of animal-assisted therapy on pediatric oncology patients and their families. 

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