TAWNY Library

A collection of resources organized by category.



Links to existing programs that use therapy animals to enhance the care and treatment of humans.

Pets for Life, Inc., Kansas City, MO
Enhancing the care and treatment of people in local hospitals, nursing homes, shelters for domestic violence, mental health programs, treatment centers for youth and corrections facilities through the use of certified therapy teams of pets and volunteers.




Equus Foundation



How Haatchi the Three-Legged Dog Is Helping a Disabled Boy
Story about 7 year old Owen Howkins, whose companion, an Anatolian Shepherd named Haatchi, has helped himm overcome his fearl of social situations. He was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, which made him look different thus leading to severe anxiety and an inability to leave his English home. With Haatchi's help, Owen is now less fearful during his frequent hospital visits and loves to go to dog shows. Haatchi will also soon help others, as he is now a certified therapy dog. Haatchi's wonderful work has earned him an award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

More hospitals allowing visits from patients' pets
Increasing numbers of hospitals in the Baltimore area are permitting patients' pets to visit them while they recover from illnss and injury. Article appeared in The Baltimore Sun on July 6, 2012.

Working like a dog Chloe spends time with patients, students and disaster victims, and donates blood for other dogs: local story illustrating the numerous ways in which a therapy animal can connect with individual in many circumstances. Chloe is a Golden Retriever who visits patients at Roswell Park in Buffalo, as well as Absolut Care (a nursing and therapy residence), and participates in a reading program at an elementary school and sumnmer camps for kids. Chloe and her human have been tested and certified as an official handler/canine team by the HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (HOPE AACR) organization, which is a national all-volunteer, non-profit, crisis response organization with specially trained and certified handler/canine teams. Agencies call upon HOPE AACR teams to provide comfort and support to people affected by disasters, usually in the recovery phase. 

Good overview of the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy. Focuses mainly on the benefits for children with disabilities or children recovering from severe injuries. Animals used in therapy can speed their recoveries or allow them to become more independent. Emphasizes how much better patients are when animals are utilized as part of a therapy program.

“The healing touch - animal-assisted therapy"  By: W. Bradford Swift
           Explains the differences between Animal-Assisted Therapy and Animal-Assisted Activities. Provides background information on how they both got started and stories from patients who take part in them. The benefits of AAA and AAT are explained, as well as how to go about getting your pet involved in these types of things. Lists the qualifications they look for in therapy dogs in addition to the qualities they look for in their volunteers. Background information about The Delta Society and Therapy Dogs International is included.



This article provides a very straightforward explanation of what Animal Assisted Activities are and what you can do, and other basic information.  It even states how to get a program started. It is written more with the veterinarian in mind, but it would be a good general information starting point.

Beck,AM, Katcher AH.  A new look at pet-facilitated therapy.  J. of the Vet. Medical Assn.  1984:184, 414-421.

Beck AM. The therapeutic use of animals.  Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1985 Mar;15(2):365-75.
Animal-facilitated therapy both benefits and suffers from the attention of the public and press. There is a need to balance the enthusiasm for pet-facilitated therapy programs with guidelines for their judicial use and continued research to identify their full potential.

Carmack BJ, Fila D.  Animal-assisted therapy: a nursing intervention. Nurs Manage. 1989 May;20(5):96, 98, 100-1.

Fraser C. Patient's advocate: sometimes the best therapy has four legs. RN. 1989 Jun;52(6):21-2.

Gagnon J, Bouchard F, Landry M, Belles-Isles M, Fortier M, Fillion L. Faculty of Nursing, Laval University, Quebec City. Implementing a hospital-based animal therapy program for children with cancer: a descriptive study.  Can Oncol Nurs J. 2004 Fall;14(4):217-22.
Children living with cancer must cope with the disease, frequent hospitalizations, aggressive treatments and numerous treatment side effects. Combined, these stressors can lead to adverse biopsychosocial effects. An animal therapy program called "A Magical Dream" was instituted for children hospitalized in pediatric oncology to promote their well-being during hospitalization and facilitate their adaptation to the therapeutic process. The main goal of this preliminary study was to complete a descriptive assessment of the program implementation using Donabedian's quality model. This study aims more specifically at documenting the observed connection between participating in the program, quality of care and satisfaction of participating parents and nurses. A total of 16 parents of children and 12 nurses took part in the implementation study and composed the sample. Data were collected through two self-administered questionnaires intended for parents and one questionnaire for nurses. Evaluating the quality of the animal therapy program includes issues related to user profiles, animal therapy intervention process, organizational structure and client outcomes. It appears that dog-assisted therapy may contribute to alleviate psychological distress in children and parents, facilitate their adaptation to the therapeutic process, and promote their well-being while hospitalized. The goal of a second phase to the project will be to verify the effectiveness of the animal therapy intervention by targeting more specifically children hospitalized with solid tumours. Stemming from a nursing initiative started in 1999, this project aims to promote the well-being of children living with cancer during their hospitalization, reduce their emotional distress and facilitate their adaptation to the therapeutic (psychological, physical and social) process by promoting the emergence of special bonds between children and animals. The animal therapy program at CHUQ allows children accompanied by a parent to spend a whole day with a dog while being hospitalized in a room that is safe, warm and family friendly (Landry et al., 2000). In addition to facilitating the child's adaptation, this initiative may contribute to improving the quality of care, especially by offering a service for which client outcomes have already been noted (refreshing rest, better nourishment, physical exercise, socialization, participation in recreational activities, verbalization of fears and concerns, feeling less anxious, happier, etc.). Animal therapy is defined as a clinical method aiming to promote the natural and healing bonds that exist between humans and animals, both for preventive and therapeutic reasons (Daoust, 1987). The rationale behind this practice is that animals naturally stimulate an attraction and involvement response in humans (Brodie & Biley, 1999), which is then reflected in the person's well-being. As well-being is inconsistent with the state of emotional distress, animal-assisted therapy may be a beneficial intervention to alleviate distress in the child, his family and caregivers.


Wilson CC, Netting FE. Companion animals and the elderly: a state-of-the-art summary. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1983 Dec 15;183(12):1425-9.
The human/animal relationship exhibited by the elderly and their pets has limitations as well as potentials. The functions of a pet as a companion and social facilitator in pet-facilitated psychotherapy include serving as a cotherapist for facilitation of rapport, providing companionship, substituting for close interpersonal relationships (ie, significant others), enhancing the health status of a variety of target groups, increasing opportunity for sensory stimulation, and providing emotional support and a sense of well-being. Available information was limited because few studies have been replicated, data were not validated, and previous studies were restricted mainly to institutionalized or therapeutic environments. Implications for future research include use of animals for companionship and to promote the physical, social, and emotional health of the elderly.




Farm animal-assisted intervention: relationship between work and contact with farm animals and change in depression, anxiety, and self-efficacy among persons with clinical depression. Pedersen I, Nordaunet T, Martinsen EW, Berget B, Braastad BO. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2011;32(8):493-500.

Fourteen adults with clinical depression participated twice a week in a 12-week farm animal-assisted intervention consisting of work and contact with dairy cattle. Each participant was video-recorded twice during the intervention, and the recordings were categorized with respect to various work tasks and animal and human contact. Levels of anxiety and depression decreased and self-efficacy increased during the intervention. Interaction with farm animals via work tasks showed a greater potential for improved mental health than via sole animal contact, but only when progress in working skills was achieved, indicating the role of coping experiences for a successful intervention.

Use of Animal-Assisted Therapy in the Rehabilitation of an Assault Victim with a Concurrent Mood Disorder. Sockalingam, Sanjeev; Li, Madeline; Krishnadev, Upasana; Hanson, Keith; Balaban, Kayli; Pacione, Laura R; Bhalerao, Shree. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 2008; 29(1): 73-84.

Multidisciplinary mental health rehabilitation settings often encounter patients with complex comorbid medical and psychiatric issues that require integrative, multifaceted treatment strategies. Although medication and psychotherapy are typical treatment mainstays, a broader variety of therapeutic options are available, including animal-assisted therapy. Here we describe a patient who received animal-assisted therapy as a psychiatric rehabilitation tool to ameliorate his atypical depression following an assault and subsequent head injury. A review of the relevant literature highlights the therapeutic potential of animal-assisted therapy to restore and maintain patient independence and level of functioning, both of which are key treatment goals.

Is there a scientific basis for pet therapy? Giaquinto S, Valentini F. Disability Rehabilitation.
2009; 31(7):595-8.

Purpose. Pet therapy is a non-pharmacological intervention, but its scientific value is still undefined.

Methods. The first step to identify the papers of interest was the access to the MEDLINE library from 1960 until June 2007 and the Cochrane controlled trials registry.

Results. At present there is consistent evidence of the protective effect against cardiovascular risk, mainly through the moderate exercise prompted by walking a dog. Indeed, walking a dog may contribute to a physically active lifestyle. Moreover, patients suffering from chronic illness are likely to benefit from pet companionship.

Conclusions. There is a contrast between physical effects (for which the evidence is fairly clear) and the psychological benefits (for which the evidence is controversial). Further randomised researches are necessary to convey scientific dignity to the human – animal relationship.

The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients
By: Sandra B. Barker, Ph.D. and Kathryn S. Dawson, Ph.D.

This article shows the methods, objectives, results and conclusions of how Animal-Assisted Therapy helped the anxiety ratings of hospitalized Psychiatric patients.  Animal- Assisted Therapy involves interaction between patients and trained animals and this study used 230 patients referred for therapeutic recreation sessions. It was used to compare the effects that the one animal-assisted therapy session with one that didn’t include the animals. This study resulted in significant reductions in anxiety scores after the animal-assisted therapy session for patients with psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and other disorders.

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2006/514528.abs.html (correct link)
Animal- Assisted Activity at A. Meyer Children’s Hospital: A Pilot Study
By: Simona Caprilli and Andrea Messeri
This article involves Animal-Assisted Activity in a children’s hospital in Italy.  The study examined how the children, the children’s parents, the nurses, doctors, and other staff reacted to the introduction of animals in the facility. The study found the 138 children had meetings with the pets and that the infection rate of the floors did not increase. “The study also found that the presence of animals produced some beneficial effects on children: a better perception of the environment and a good interaction with dogs.” All parents were in favor of pets in the hospital, and 94% thought that this activity could benefit the child, as did the medical staff, although the staff needed more information about safety. The introduction of pets into the pediatric wards in an Italian children's hospital was a positive event.

Study Focuses on Use of Animal Assisted Therapy in Warrior Transition Battalion 
Author:  Chondra Perry
This article discusses a study done at the Warrior Transition Battalion of the Brook Army Medical Center.  It focuses on the use of animals to help the veteran’s re-integration into society.  It was designed to augment in a program called the Warrior Transition Advancement Program, in which soldiers develop skills to manage stress and anger though a series of classes and therapy.  During the sessions with the Animal Assisted dogs the soldiers train the dogs in obedience tasks and engage in ‘playful interaction’.  The results have been positive and encourage the soldiers to further apply themselves towards their ultimate goal.



Horse Therapy  By: World Health News Today
This video shows how beneficial animal-assisted therapy is. It documents the story of a young girl who was forced to have her legs amputated because of a birth defect. By attending therapy sessions where she rode a horse, she eventually regained her ability to walk.

Animal Angels Foundation
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/10/24/dogs.irpt/index.html?iref=allsearch http://www.therapyanimals.org/R.E.A.D.html [better informational link...  Could keep cnn video and include this link as background]
Learning to read? Try talking to a dog By Rachel RodriguezThis article is about a therapy dog named, Bailey.  She isn’t found in hospitals or nursing homes, but in libraries and schools.  Bailey sits with children as they read books to her.  Rodriguez states that it seems impossible for a dog to help children learn how to read when they can’t read themselves; however, it is actually working.  Children that are with Bailey are learning how to read faster and better.  Bailey, like many other animals, is a comfort to these children.  She may not be there for physical support and can’t help them with words, but she is there to listen and that it what Rodriguez says that the children need.



Beck, Alan and Aaron Katcher, foreword by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.  Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship.   Purdue UP, 1996.





Last updated: 12 October 2020