A bit of history...
The earliest reported use of animals as an adjunct to therapy was performed in the late 18th century at the York Retreat in England led by William Tuke.
Mentally ill patients were allowed to wander the grounds of the establishment which contained a population of small domestic animals who were believed to be effective tools for socialization.
In 1860 the Bethlem Hospital in England adopted the same practice and provided animals to their ward, greatly influencing the morale of their patients.
In 1961 Dr. Boris Levinson was the first one to document how animals in a therapy setting with children provided a way to ease the therapy sessions.
Today, Animal Assisted Therapy is more popular than ever and is delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers with animals that meet specific criteria.
Animal-assisted therapy with former strays
People’s attitude towards stray dogs vary. In an effort to prove stray dogs can be an immense asset to society, FOUR PAWS introduced its first Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) program in 2004.
Stray dogs are selected, trained and certified by experts to become therapy dogs.
Within the AAI Programme, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is used. It's a type of therapy that involves guided interaction with animals to facilitate healing and rehabilitation of patients with acute or chronic disease. AAT is believed to have an array of benefits, including personal and social development, increased self-esteem, improved mental health, better social skills and increased empathy and nurturing skills.
Our AAT program services children and adults who have disabilities, special health care needs, and chronic health conditions. Targeted areas of interventions are autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays and mental disabilities.
In addition to helping improve people's perception and attitude towards stray dogs, FOUR PAWS hopes witnessing stray dogs as therapy dogs will also help others consider adopting strays as companion animals.