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.
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 our Animal-Assisted Therapy Program provides services to the health care, education and military services fields. The program is an animal-assisted therapy resource nationwide with advanced training for volunteers to ensure the utmost degree of safety and efficacy. provide military children with additional social support to help them cope with stress. 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.
The American Humane Association is also collaborating 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. The camp efforts also enjoy the generous support of CESAR® Canine Cuisine.
Zoetis and American Humane Association Partnership: Animal-Assisted Therapy with Pediatric Oncology Patients and Their Families
The overarching goal of this national, three-year study is to promote innovation, evidence-based research, practice improvements and knowledge advancement in both the human-animal bond and pediatric oncology fields.
Zoetis and American Humane Association are confident that this innovative study will fill a great need in the area of children's cancer research, as well as inform the broad use of AAT in clinical settings.
Children diagnosed with cancer and their families not only deal with physical issues, but are also prone to psycho-social issues including isolation, depression, trauma, and fear. Adjunct therapies, such as animal-assisted therapy, are needed to address these complex issues.
Empirical evidence shows that interaction with animals during therapy is beneficial. Can we document with more certainty that animal-assisted therapy can improve the health and well-being of children with cancer and their families while ensuring the safety and well-being of the therapy animal?
Rigorous Study Design
A randomized control trial design will be utilized at multiple top-rated pediatric oncology sites to measure biological, psychological and social outcomes among children and families, as well as clinical outcomes.