1. Studies have shown that the children who grow up in homes with animals have a better ability to show empathy later and as adults. Pets are easy to communicate with, and their body language is much simpler than a human’s. This simple body language allows children to learn to empathize with them, a skill they can carry with them as they go through life (Holistic Online, 2007).
Every person needs physical touch, no matter what. We are made to thrive off of it. There are some people that for whatever reason are not comfortable with the physical touch of another human. Many of these people are those that have been either physically or sexually abused. The use of pet therapy allows them to have an experience touch in a very non-threatening way, making a world of a difference through appropriate physical contact. For those in a hospital, every time they are touched it is painful. Pet therapy can be one of the few methods of touch that is pain free and pleasant (Holistic Online, 2007).
The presence of animals allows many people to relax. Studies and tests have shown the decrease in heart rate and blood pressure to be dramatic around animals. Something as simple as watching fish has even shown have relaxing effects. In any type of healthcare, one of the most important aspects is the therapeutic relationship with the patients or clients. Sometimes this relationship may be challenging to build. Animals can be used to open a channel of emotionally safe and non-threatening communication in the relationship. The simple presence of an animal may open a path through their resistance and allow the professional to come inside. The presence of animals is extremely effective with children. They are much more likely to project their true feelings or experiences onto an animal than they would an adult that they might not trust or feel comfortable around (Holistic Online, 2007).
Communication with people increases mental stimulation. Other things that have been shown to increase mental stimulation include recalled memories and entertainment that is provided by animals. In atmospheres that feel depression or like an institution, just the presence of animals can make it seem much brighter. Additionally, animals increase amusement, laughter, and play for the individuals around them. These distractions from their current situation can decrease their feelings of isolation or alienation that go along with their situation (Holistic Online, 2007).
2. The program started at St. Mary’s Hospital with just monthly group visits of one dog. This program has proved effective and beneficial and has evolved to using several dogs three or four times a month. They still use the dogs in a group setting, but also include individual visits to the patient’s room and bedside (Oakley, Kid Needs).
When an occupational therapist uses animals in their therapy the patient, in this case a child, will be either in their wheelchair or on a therapy mat. If the child...