The AHA and Animal-Assisted Therapy
As the nation's voice for the protection of children and animals, a vital part of American Humane Association's mission is to utilize positive human-animal interaction to help build healthy, humane communities. We have built, fostered, and nurtured a profound understanding of the special relationship that exists between human beings and the animals that are an inseparable part of our lives and culture.
One of the many ways that this relationship is illustrated is through American Humane Association's Animal-Assisted Therapy Program, a goal-directed intervention in which a specially trained animal that meets specific criteria becomes an integral part of a person's learning or healing process.
Through this innovative program, American Humane Association has helped tens of thousands of people in healthcare settings, schools, youth correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and group homes through therapeutic interaction with our trained therapy teams.
Children who have been traumatized and unable to talk about abuse have opened up to a therapist in the presence of a non-judgmental, unconditionally accepting trained therapy animal. And adults undergoing physical therapy have found strength and encouragement to learn to walk again with a calm, trained therapy animal by their side to motivate them to take those first steps.
We continue to build on our overall goal of ensuring that wherever animal-assisted therapy is practiced, it is done so humanely, safely, and effectively — with practices backed by scientific research and evidence — to provide optimal outcomes for all who experience this innovative therapy.
What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
American Humane Association's Animal-Assisted Therapy Program has been providing services to the health care, child welfare, education and military services fields for more than 10 years. In 2010 alone, our volunteers and their therapy animals touched the lives of more than 130,000 people at over 50 facilities.
Our animal-assisted therapy teams work with diverse ages, genders, socioeconomic and cultural populations in a variety of settings. They conduct visits in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, long-term care centers, residential treatment homes, hospice, mental health facilities and others types of facilities.
Oftentimes, the interaction with a trained therapy animal motivates rehabilitation patients to walk again, teaches children in special education classrooms important life skills, and facilitates counseling sessions in mental health centers. In other environments, the therapy animal provides mental stimulation, physiological benefits, and unconditional acceptance.
Our animal-assisted therapy teams serve military children & their families, hospitalized patients, children with cancer, families experience homelessness, elders with Alzheimer's disease, youth in correctional facilities, children with special needs, people with PTSD and TBI, and many more.