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Archive for the ‘Therapy Animals’ Category

Dogs, Coloring Lower Stress in Emergency Department Workers

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

From Physicians Briefing, April, 2020

In a prospective trial, five minutes spent coloring or with therapy dogs lowered provider cortisol levels

FRIDAY, April 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Taking a short break to interact with therapy dogs or color mandalas decreases stress levels in emergency medicine providers, according to a study published online April 7 in Academic Emergency Medicine.

Jeffrey A. Kline, M.D., from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues compared the impact of a five-minute midshift break to interact with a therapy dog versus a similar break to color a mandala versus no intervention on the stress levels of physicians and nurses at a single emergency department. The researchers assessed self-reported stress levels with a visual analog scale (VAS; 0 to 100 mm) and measured cortisol levels in saliva samples collected before, during, and after each provider’s shift.

The researchers found that among 122 providers, there were no differences in VAS at the beginning of shifts. Midshift coloring increased VAS and interaction with dogs decreased VAS at the end of shifts, while controls remained unchanged (24.5, 13.6, and 20 mm, respectively). In all groups, salivary cortisol levels were highest at the start of shifts; however, cortisol levels were lower for both intervention groups compared with controls at the end of the shifts.

“Many health care workers and laypersons believe that dog-assisted support can improve emotional well-being in the health care setting, but little hard data exist to scientifically evaluate this belief, especially in emergency care,” Kline said in a statement. “We provide novel data to suggest that emergency care providers enjoyed seeing a dog on shift, and received a small benefit in stress reduction after the interaction.”

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AHF Pet Partners at CSUF

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

From DailyTitan

Titanwell advocates self-care with four-legged friends

Students with AHF Pet Partner Jen McCormick and Moana

A photo of students gather in front of the Titan Wellness patio to de-stress with therapy animals.
(Jiyo Cayabyab / Daily Titan )

Before the full force of the sun shined on campus and thousands of students rushed to their classes, the early risers got the chance to play with some four-legged friends.

Titanwell hosted its monthly Animal Therapy session yesterday at the Student Wellness patio. Animal Therapy gives students a new way to de-stress from the challenges they face at school.

“As students, we get so caught up in being focused on when the next paper is due — when our next exam is — but pet therapy allows us to really take in the moment, live in the moment and just pause,” said Angelika Sann, a social work graduate student.

After signing a liability form, everyone is welcome to spend time with the animals. In order to make the animals feel safe, groups are limited to 2-3 people at a time. Each animal has a handler with them at all times who is happy to answer any questions visitors may have about the animals.

“I believe that it’s a good way to advocate self-care, which is really important for college students,” Tiffany Nguyen said. “It’s our stress reliever because now school is getting harder.”

Titanwell is focused on giving their students and faculty members the best resources they can for mental health, which includes picking the right animal therapy organization to team up with.

Pet Partners and Animal Health Foundation have very high standards. They’re one of the few organizations that are allowed to be around children. So we figured Cal State Fullerton deserves the best,” said Gloria Flores, peer health educator at the wellness center.

Pet Partners is a nonprofit organization with more than 10,000 volunteers that offer animal-assisted therapy to diverse facilities such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

The Animal Health Foundation is a charity organization that works together with the California Veterinary Medical Association to improve the health and well-being of animals by supporting and promoting animal-related activities.

People wanting to become Pet Partner volunteers go through a screening process where the AHF assesses the interested applicants. The pet and pet-owner are viewed as a unified “team”; therefore, both must pass the screening process together. The test depends largely on the pet.

Jen McCormick, a therapy animal handler, registered her jet-black mini-rex rabbit, Moana, after being told that Moana would make a good therapy animal.

Before Moana helped the mental health of Titans, her partner saved her from a high-kill shelter. Moana had a mangled leg when Jenn adopted her, but she got help from SomeBunny Rabbit Rescue for an amputation.

“It’s very different from what dogs have to do. The dogs have to know how to sit, stay and leave it. The rabbits have to be calm. This is not normal for a rabbit. Rabbits, because they’re prey animals, they don’t like to be touched or picked up,” McCormick said.

The prey mentality makes rabbits unlikely therapy animals; however, Moana is one of 150 registered rabbits with Pet Partners. Her velvet-soft fur and big, entrancing eyes made her a big hit with students.

The student wellness center introduced animal therapy between 2015 and 2016. The positive reactions from students have motivated the center to provide more animals.

“We like the simplicity of it, so we try to keep it that way but decided to bring more animals because more people were coming,” Flores said.

Student Wellness workers look forward to seeing the students’ reactions with the therapy animals.

“First, [the students] come in and they come out and the reaction to all the animals is really rewarding,” said Sabrina Gonzalez, a peer health educator.

All forms of mental health care are equally important. Even if some methods like animal therapy seem small in comparison to more formal ones, like one-on-one therapy, every step counts.

According to CRC Health, some of the benefits from animal-assisted therapy can include a decrease in feelings of anxiety, loneliness and grief. It can also improve focus and attention, as well as offer an alternative to those who are resistant to other forms of treatment.

“Things like this are very important for us to have access to. I feel like people don’t realize  that even just petting animals is very therapeutic,” said Sarah Stahl, a social work graduate student.

Almost 40% of college students struggle with mental health issues; therefore, they can benefit the most from something as simple as petting animals.

The Runaway Concept of an Emotional Support Animal

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

From:  https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2019/12/15/emotional-support-animal-certification.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker               December 15, 2019

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Emotional support animals (ESAs) seem to be everywhere these days, but the issue is not without controversy
  • Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a standard assessment for therapists asked to provide patients with ESA certificates
  • The proposal answers the need for ethical guidelines around ESAs
  • If the proposal is adopted as an industry standard, it will become more difficult for individuals to receive ESA certifications, but will benefit society as a whole from the standpoint of safety

By now almost everyone is familiar with the concept of an emotional support animal (ESA), and chances are, many of you have already encountered an ESA in a formerly “animal-free zone.” Or perhaps you or someone in your family or circle of friends has a dog, cat, bird, or other animal companion who serves as an ESA.

How ESAs Differ From Service Animals

Emotional support animals, according to the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), can be any species of animal, who must fulfill a disability-related need and whose use is supported by a physician, psychiatrist or mental health professional.

ESAs don’t qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Service animals are highly trained and can receive certifications as psychiatric service dogs to help people who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia and other mental conditions.

Emotional support animals, on the other hand, don’t require specific training to provide assistance to someone with a psychological disability. However, they may be permitted in housing facilities that would otherwise prohibit animals, and the ACAA allows some ESAs to travel on airlines at no extra cost, often with supportive documentation required.

As you might expect, there’s growing controversy surrounding the appearance of ESAs in ever-increasing numbers in locations that have traditionally been off-limits to animals. Sadly, the backlash isn’t surprising given that more than a few people have taken advantage of the special access granted to ESAs, falsely claiming their pet is necessary for emotional support.

Researchers Propose a Standard Assessment to Certify ESAs

Recently, researchers at the University of New Mexico published an article in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, outlining the ethical challenges therapists face when asked to certify emotional support animals for their patients, and offering possible solutions to better serve both people who feel they need ESAs and those who must comply with the animals, such as landlords and airlines.1

The research team developed and is proposing a four-prong standard assessment for therapists when asked by patients to provide an ESA certificate:

  1. Understanding, recognizing and applying the laws regulating ESAs.
  2. A thorough valid assessment of the individual requesting an ESA certification.
  3. An assessment of the animal in question to ensure it actually performs the valid functions of an ESA.
  4. An assessment of the interaction between the animal and the individual to determine whether the animal’s presence has a demonstrably beneficial effect on that individual.

Assessment Will Address Whether the ESA Is Able to Do What It’s Being Asked to Do

The proposed assessment involves not just the patient, but the animal as well.

“Somebody has to certify that the animal is able to do what you’re asking it to do,” says lead article author Jeffrey Younggren, a forensic psychologist and clinical professor at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “And there are avenues by which animals can be evaluated regarding their capacity for these kinds of experiences.”2

There’s no shortage of horror stories of encounters with emotional support animals, especially during air travel, and Younggren and his colleagues believe that implementing standardized guidelines and practices will reduce the number of incidents.

“Our research has nothing to do with service animals,” Younggren clarifies. “Seeing eye dogs and therapy dogs are animals that help individuals manage their disabilities in certain situations — but that’s not what an ESA is. An ESA is an example of a well-intended idea that has metastasized and developed into a world of nonsense.”

Proposal Answers the Need for Ethical Guidelines Around ESAs

Paper co-author Cassandra Boness, a University of Missouri Ph.D. candidate, says the proposed assessment will better align ESA certifications with professional and legal practices, while also providing guidelines for mental health therapists.

“One of our biggest goals is to disseminate this information in order to better educate mental health providers, as well as policy writers, about the need for ethical guidelines around ESAs,” Boness said.3

Importantly, mental health practitioners who aren’t knowledgeable about the law may not realize that when they write an ESA certification letter for a patient, legally it constitutes a disability determination that becomes part of the patient’s permanent medical record. Per the UNM Newsroom publication:

“Currently, in order to receive waivers for housing or travel purposes where animals are banned, the law requires patients must have a mental or emotional condition diagnosable by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

If patients are given certifications for an ESA, it means they, and the therapist signing the certification, are declaring the patient to be psychologically disabled with significant impairment in functioning.”4

The proposed assessment will require ESA certifiers to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the person requesting the certification to determine if they have a disability under the DSM-5, according to Younggren.

“That disability has to substantially interfere with the patient’s ability to function, which is what the ADA requires,” he explains. “And the presence of the animal has to ameliorate the condition, which means you have to see the person with the animal.”

If the proposal is adopted as an industry standard, it will become more difficult for individuals to receive ESA certifications, but will benefit society as a whole from a safety perspective.

Moving Forward

The researchers are hopeful their work will spur more research on the impact of emotional support animals on patients in order to build a larger body of scientific evidence.

The important takeaway here is that no one is arguing that pets provide both physical and mental health benefits to humans — those facts are well-estab­lished and backed up with an ever-growing library of scientific studies.

The human-animal bond is real and describes the powerful, positive interaction that exists between people and animals. It’s not just about companionship — it’s about a deep connection that enhances the quality of life of both humans and animals.

The issue is that in a civilized society, it’s necessary to develop and enforce guidelines and standards that benefit the many rather than the few. It’s also important to evaluate current trends, in this case the growing use of ESAs, for potential short and long-term consequences to the animals and humans involved in these pairings, as well as society as a whole.

Therapy Dove, Cloud, Visits UCI

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

AHF’s Caring Creatures’ Therapy Dove, Cloud, and his partner, Daleen Comer, visited student at UCI

this past week to help with stress relief during finals week.

ESA, Therapy and Service Dogs

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

A Service Dog is more than a vest

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Benefits of the Elderly Owning Pets

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The link below is to an article on Caring.com about the benefits of the elderly owning pets!

https://www.caring.com/senior-living/assisted-living/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets

AHF Therapy Dogs help kids during school exams relieve stress

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

 

Big rabbit brings big smiles at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks

Friday, May 18th, 2018
Robyn Flans, Special to Ventura County Star
Published 11:55 a.m. PT March 7, 2018 | Updated 4:30 p.m. PT March 7, 2018

Diana Metzgus of Newbury Park kisses Henry, a Flemish Giant Rabbit at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center. The rabbit has joined the Pet Therapy Program and has stolen the hearts of patients and staff with his snuggly cuddles.

On a recent visit to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Henry had a long list of patients to visit.

It would take some time getting to them, though, because hospital visitors stopped Henry’s stroller every couple of steps to take photos.

  • That’s because Henry is 2½ feet long and weighs more than 20 pounds.

And he’s a rabbit.

A Flemish Giant rabbit, to be exact, and his owner, Candy Apple, has turned him into a therapy animal. She brings him to the hospital every couple of weeks, and he brings smiles to everyone who sees him.

“Oh, God, you’re beautiful!” she said to Henry as Apple placed him on her hospital bed.

Metzgus was a little girl when her father got her a bunny she named Puca. It turned out Puca was a Flemish Giant rabbit.

“It grew and grew and grew and grew,” she said.

Puca went swimming with her, and she pushed him in a stroller. So seeing Henry made her day, she said.

It was the same story with Robert Moss. The minute Henry entered his room, Moss lit up and exclaimed, “Oh, my God! You’re a big guy.”

Apple placed him in Moss’ bed.

“Awww, you’re like a big plush toy,” Moss told the animal. “You’re a sweet, cute guy.”

Then it was on to Arnole Levine, who once owned a pet store.

“I want one,” mouthed Levine, who was not able to speak. He was content to pet Henry while the rabbit lay quietly beside him.

She ended up with Henry when a friend’s daughter realized she didn’t have enough time to take care of him properly. Apple adopted him when he was 8 weeks old and took him to Home Goods, a local home furnishing store, two days a week to socialize him.

“He would sit with children, and parents would take pictures,” Apple recalled. “People would hold him and fuss over him so he was used to everybody. Flemish Giants don’t normally like to be held a lot.”

When Henry was about 8 months old, a woman who did pet therapy at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center approached Apple at Home Goods.

“She said, ‘Henry has to be a therapy rabbit,’” Apple said. “I had never thought about it. I went home and looked up Pet Partners, which is one of the most involved therapy organizations in the States.”

Both Apple and Henry took the necessary tests. Apple’s was a written examination and Henry’s was a hospital simulation.

“You go into a room and they do everything that could happen in a hospital,” Apple said. “They throw things and scream and bump into you and bring in dogs like therapy dogs.”

Henry passed with flying colors.

“Henry is very special,” Apple explained. “Flemish Giants are known for their docile personalities anyway, but Henry is like a dog. Henry follows me around. He scratches at the door to go outside. He goes potty in a litter box. He has the run of the entire house. He sleeps with the dog on the dog bed. The cats all lay around him.”

Henry has nearly 15,000 followers on his Instagram page, where many say he’s a unique animal.

But even after Henry was certified, it took a couple of tries at Los Robles. At first, the staff said the hospital only accepted therapy dogs because of disease control.

“Two months later, I got a call: ‘Henry’s in!’ They did all their homework and found out that Henry’s one of the cleanest animals,” Apple said.

It turns out Henry’s a superstar.

Lucille Porter-Chapman expressly requested visits, and Henry stopped by her hospital room about 12 times before the Newbury Park woman passed away Feb. 19.

“God’s love comes in animals and nature,” Porter-Chapman said during one of the visits. “He makes me feel so good.”

Apple can’t imagine her life without Henry.

“He is a miracle rabbit. He’s my therapy rabbit. He helps me a lot, too,” Apple said. “The cuddles I give him and he gives me … I was crying one day and he ran right up to me and sniffed my tears and cuddled me.”

Service, Emotional Support and Therapy Animals

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

  From the AVMA

Animals can play a very important role assisting people with disabilities and as part of therapeutic activities. Most people are aware of the role of service animals, such as guide dogs, but other types of assistance animals may be less familiar.

A more recently developed legal category of assistance animals is the emotional support animal (ESA). These are animals that provide companionship and emotional support for people diagnosed with a psychological disorder. They are documented by a letter from a human health professional, which legally guarantees that they may live with their handler and accompany them on aircraft, exempt from the fees that would be charged for a companion animal.

Some people misrepresent their animals as assistance animals in order to bring them to places where pets are not allowed, to avoid fees, or out of a misunderstanding of the animal’s role. It is important for veterinarians to assist their clients in correctly identifying their animals, and to provide care and advice consistent with the animal’s role.

The AVMA recognizes and supports the federal definition of service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act; the federal regulations for emotional support animals under  the Fair Housing Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and provides guidelines related to animal-assisted interventions. At its July 2017 meeting, the AVMA House of Delegates approved a new policy on the Veterinarian’s Role in Supporting Appropriate Selection and Use of Service, Assistance and Therapy Animals​​ proposed by the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions.

To learn more about assistance animals please refer to the newly released AVMA report: Assistance Animals: Rights of Access and the Problem of Fraud. While fraud can be a vexing issue, it is important for veterinarians to actively support the appropriate use of assistance animals and anti-fraud initiatives   so that undue burden is not placed on people using these animals in their intended roles.

If you are an AVMA member and would like to provide information or suggestions to the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions relating to assistance animals or animals used for therapeutic purposes, please email the committee at humananimalbond@avma.org.

The Legal Context For Assistance Animal Use – Definitions

Classification​ ​Definition ​As Defined By
​Assistance Animal ​“Any animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability,” as defined by the ADA.4 “Individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals. In order to qualify for such an accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. If these requirements are met, a housing facility, program or service must permit the assistance animal as an accommodation, unless it can demonstrate that allowing the assistance animal would impose an undue financial or administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing program or services.” ​U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (FHEO-2013-01)
​Service Animal ​“Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” Miniature horses have been added as a specific provision to the ADA. The miniature horse must be housebroken, under the handler’s control, can be accommodated for by the facility, and will not compromise safety regulations. ​Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (Section 35.136)
​Any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability; or any animal shown by documentation to be necessary for the emotional well-being of a passenger… Psychiatric service animals are recognized as service animals, but are considered to be emotional support animals and, therefore, subject to the applicable regulatory requirements, i.e. documentation. ​Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382
​Emotional Support Animal ​An emotional support animal (ESA) may be an animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA does not have to be trained to perform any particular task. ESAs do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they may be permitted as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act. The Air Carrier Access Act provides specific allowances for ESAs traveling on airlines, though documentation may need to be provided. ​Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. Part 3604) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and C.F.R. Part 382.117
​Therapy Animal ​A therapy animal is a type of animal-assisted intervention in which there is a “goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature.” ​Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382; AVMA Animal-Assisted Interventions: Definitions

 

​Find additional information, including reference citations, in Assistance Animals: Rights of Access and the Problem of Fraud(PDF).