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Animal Assisted Therapy

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal assisted therapy seeks to improve physical, social and emotional functioning of patients through interaction with animals. The therapy is offered to patients through trained therapy animals in the presence of a human therapist. The animals can be dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, ducks, rabbits and birds. Activities that can be indulged with the animal include riding in case of horses and donkeys and gentle petting, cuddling, holding, playing and walking with in case of other animals.

When a patient interacts with animals, production of stress hormones reduces and production of happiness-inducing hormones (oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins) increases. The outcome is that the patient’s mood lightens and he or she feels happier and relaxed. This in turn helps the patient to cope with his physical or mental health condition better and also advances the primary treatment being received by the patent for his or her ailment.

Who can ideally benefit from this Therapy?

Children, adults and the elderly can all benefit from pet therapy. Physical health conditions like cerebral palsy, autism and mental retardation among children can benefit from pet therapy in respect of improvement in motor skills, verbal skills and social skills. For instance, autistic kids neither speak nor establish eye contact. But with animals the bonding is mainly physical and hence autistic children find it easier to connect with dogs and cats.

Among the elderly, Alzheimer’s sufferers gain from this therapy. So far as psychological conditions are concerned the therapy can treat children to curb behavioural issues such as aggression, shyness etc and adults with complaints like depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress etc. Recently three Golden Retriever therapy dogs have been deployed at Mumbai Airport to interact and calm the nerves of adults and children who are afraid of flying.

You can also train your dog or cat to be a therapist, provided the pet doesn't just tolerate human company but actually enjoys it and this is first ascertained by the trainer through a screening test. Shireen Merchant of Canines Can Care and Akash Lonkar / Minal Kavishkar of Animal Angels Foundation offer training courses.

Ahmedabad

Donkey Sanctuary India

Donkeys are a great stimulation and offer valuable assisted therapy. This centre is providing unique donkey riding therapy to children with special needs and therapeutic visits for adults as well.

15, A/B, Chharodi Farm Complex, Village Chharodi, Ahmedabad

Dr Ramesh Kumar Perumal

098258 85223

Bangalore

Healing Horses

Healing Horses imparts the therapy by teaching patients to ride horses holding reins.

# 233, 6th Block, BEL Layout, Vidyaranyapura, Bangalore 560097.

Pushpa P. Bopaiah

080-4161 0899, 098455 79609

www.healinghorses.in

Bangalore

Pet Therapy Centre of St John's Medical College and Hospital

Spread over 2 acres of land, this centre has 60 types of birds and animals like deer, rabbits, lovebirds, parakeets, peacocks, flying ducks, rabbits, Japanese squirrels, Australian Emu etc. Patients with physical and mental disabilities, psychiatric problems, pediatric disorders can avail the pet therapy at this centre.

Dr Sunny Chunkapura, Resident Medical Officer

080-4946 6029

Bhubaneswar

Hands and Paws Foundation

Their trained therapy dogs are being used for a variety of healing purposes, from speech therapy to psychotherapy to simply cheering people up.

DL/44, VSS Nagar, Bhubaneswar

Brijesh Dash

098048 87771

Facebook Page

Chennai

Saraswati Kendra Learning Centre for Children

Their ‘Dr Dog programme’ was launched with the assistance of the Animal Asia Foundation (AAF), Hong Kong. The dogs trained by AAF are deployed at Saraswati Kendra to provide animal-assisted therapy especially to children with special needs.

The C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, 1 Eldams Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600018

044-2435 3176

www.saraswathikendra.org

Delhi-NCR

Caregivers Link (CGL)

They are the Delhi-based affiliate of Animal Angels Foundation, who conduct the therapy.

Janet Sunita

098105 20543

Web Page

Mumbai

Canines Can Care

This organisation has pioneered the training of dogs to provide assistance to the handicapped, so that the latter can live independently. The dogs carry out tasks like opening doors, retrieving objects etc.

Dadar Circle, Mumbai

Shirin Merchant - Canine Behaviourist and Trainer

098204 26651

www.shirinmerchant.com

Mumbai

Manav Rehabilitation Centre

They are the Mumbai-based associates of Animal Angels Foundation, who conduct the therapy.

168, Tyre House, Lamington Cross Road, Alibhai Premji Marg, Grant Road (East), Mumbai 400007

080970 83518, 022-2300 8984

Web Page

Pune

Animal Angels Foundation

Animal Angels Foundation has been the pioneer who introduced animal assisted therapy in India. They have over 50 trained therapy dogs.

C1, Krishna Nagar, Erandwane, Pune 411004.

Ms Minal Kavishwar

099875 09102

animalangels.org.in

Various Cities

UberKITTENS

A service from Uber Cabs. Whenever UberKITTENS comes to your city, you will see 'KITTENS' option on your Uber app. At the requested time, an Uber cab will bring the kittens to your place. You will then have 15 minutes to snuggle with the kittens.

Facebook Page of Uber India