Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 8

St. Louis Children's Hospital. The program is adding full-time
facility dogs and increasing the volunteer Touch Therapy
teams to connect pets with youth and promote mental
and physical health. Purina's support builds on the oneof-a-kind
Purina Family Pet Center that opened six years
ago at the leading pediatric hospital allowing family pets
to visit patients and thus combining the healing power of
the human-animal bond with the family-centered care.
A facility dog through Purina Paws for Hope is " Duo
Dog Opal, " a 4-year-old yellow female Labrador Retriever,
who serves the hospital's Child Protection Program (CPP).
Children being treated through the CPP who have opted
to include Opal as part of their clinic visit have recorded
a higher appointment attendance of 77 percent compared
to a previous average of 60 percent.
Handler Kathleen Houston says, " Opal has a powerful
impact on the staff, families and patients who are in a
vulnerable state in the child abuse clinic and who have a
hard time trusting people after the abuse they've endured.
One child said, 'Opal cures depression.' "
Like all of Duo Dogs' assistance dogs, Opal began her
training with a volunteer puppy raiser foster family who
Advancing understanding of the humananimal
bond in lowering the stress of
children with autism and their families and
in engaging patients in a mental health crisis
was the goal of studies supported by Purina
through its human-animal bond program.
Fran├žois Martin, PhD, head of animal
behavior and welfare for Purina, says,
" Animal-assisted therapy has been shown
to aid those struggling with physical,
emotional and mental challenges. This
research has provided enormous insights
about the bond between people and
pets and how this bond can positively
impact these patients at home and in
therapeutic settings. "
Research scientist Gretchen Carlisle,
PhD, of the Research Center for HumanAnimal
Interaction (ReCHAI) at the
University of Missouri, wanted to know
if having a pet helped to decrease anxiety
and increase social interactions of children with autism
and their families. The study was based on an online
survey that included 764 parents of autistic children,
of which 626 were dog or cat owners, 70 were non-pet
owners, and 68 whose pet ownership status was unknown.
" Given the high stress experienced in families of children
with autism, we wanted to understand the potential for
companion animals to help parents who may feel isolated,
overwhelmed and stigmatized, " Dr. Carlisle says. " Managing
stress is important for the health of these families. "
Published in March 2020 in the Journal of Autism and
Development, the study reported these findings based on
parents' responses about the benefits of pet ownership:
* Strong pet bonds in which 71 percent of children
with autism and 90 percent of parents are attached
to their pets
* Lower stress levels in which 59 percent of children and
62 percent of parents experience increased relaxation
from a pet
* Companionship in which 56 percent of parents say a
pet increases their companionship and affection for
their child and 68 percent say a pet adds companionship
and affection to their lives
8 | ISSUE 107
* Increased social interactions for 48
percent of children and 42 percent
of parents from pet ownership
Meanwhile, at the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario,
Canada, researcher Sophia Soklaridis,
PhD, wanted to evaluate how certified
therapy dogs aid qualitative research
with patients in a mental health crisis.
Published in August 2020 in PLOS
ONE, the study is the first to show the
value of using certified therapy dogs
as a participatory research tool in a
health setting.
" We recorded social interactions
between patients and researchers
during focus group discussions that
included a certified therapy dog to
gauge patient engagement on pet
therapy activities, " says Dr. Soklaridis,
associate professor in the Departments
of Psychiatry, Family and Community Medicine at the
University of Toronto.
" We found that therapy dogs motivated patients with
mental illness to participate in treatment rather than to
self-isolate, connected patients with one another and
researchers by providing a safe, open environment, and
created connections by comforting patients so they were
able to relate their own experiences. "
Ultimately, participating researchers, recreational therapists,
volunteer handlers, and patients agreed that having a
therapy dog at their discussions was integral to their
success. " Certified therapy dogs can be used effectively
to engage hard-to-reach patients in research about their
treatment and care. Therapy dogs increased patients'
motivation, helped them build rapport and create connections, "
Dr. Soklaridis says.
" The power of the human-animal bond as reflected in
these studies warrants continued studies and understanding, "
says Dr. Martin of Purina. " These studies are very
encouraging by showing that pets may provide relief
from stress for families of children with autism and that
therapy dogs may encourage mental illness patients to
open up for more effective treatment. "

Today's Breeder - Issue 107

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Today's Breeder - Issue 107

Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - Cover
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 2
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - Contents
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 4
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 5
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 6
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 7
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 8
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 9
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 10
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 11
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 12
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 13
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 14
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 15
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 16
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 17
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 18
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 19
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 20
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 21
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 22
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 23
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 24
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 25
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 26
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 27
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 28
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 29
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 30
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 31
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 32
Today's Breeder - Issue 107 - 33