Monday, July 3, 2017

"Therapy animals are everywhere. Proof that they help is not."

Via Drudge:  The trend, which has accelerated hugely since its initial stirrings a few decades ago, is underpinned by a widespread belief that interaction with animals can reduce distress — whether it happens over brief caresses at the airport or in long-term relationships at home. Certainly, the groups offering up pets think this, as do some mental health professionals. But the popular embrace of pets as furry therapists is kindling growing discomfort among some researchers in the field, who say it has raced far ahead of scientific evidence.

Earlier this year in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science, an introduction to a series of articles on “animal-assisted intervention” said research into its efficacy “remains in its infancy.” A recent literature review by Molly Crossman, a Yale University doctoral candidate who recently wrapped up one study involving an 8-year-old dog named Pardner, cited a “murky body of evidence” that sometimes has shown positive short-term effects, often found no effect and occasionally identified higher rates of distress.

Overall, Crossman wrote, animals seem to be helpful in a “small-to-medium” way, but it’s unclear whether the critters deserve the credit or something else is at play.

“It’s a field that has been sort of carried forward by the convictions of practitioners” who have seen patients’ mental health improve after working with or adopting animals, said James Serpell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “That kind of thing has almost driven the field, and the research is playing catch-up. In other words, people are recognizing that anecdote isn’t enough.”

(Link to more)

5 comments:

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Therapy animals are everywhere? Everywhere? Really?

Maybe I've never seen one because they're always hiding behind a chiropractor.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Therapy animals are just an excuse to take your pet into a restaurant and supermarket.

Sort of like France.

Amartel said...

They do around where I live and work (No Cal). I think people like taking their animals to work. (Won't anyone think of the animals?) Also, it's sort of a badge of victimhood, like, look at me with my living, breathing security blanket; I'm damaged!! (Wooo! Damaged! Yaaay!)

Amartel said...

There are different levels of "therapy" animals per airline transport rules:

Service Animals: Trained to assist persons with disabilities and are not considered pets.
U.S. airlines are required to allow passengers to travel with service animals in the cabin, and they cannot limit the number on any flight. They do not require health certificates to travel, and are not required to be confined to cages or carriers in the cabin. Can be banned from flight if they pose a safety or health risk or significant disruption to others.

Emotional Support Animals: Emotional support animals help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support. Federal law does not require these animals to have any specific training and you do not have to be disabled to register. May be brought onto an aircraft provided that the passenger furnishes documentation, within the last year, from a certified mental health physician. There is a limited number of emotional support animals allowed on a single flight. Most airlines require prior notice, usually 48 hours, that an Emotional Support Animal or Psychiatric Assist Animal will be accompanying a passenger. The animal is to be kept on the floor in front of the passenger and not go into the aisle.

Therapy Animals: Therapy animals are pets that have been trained and registered by a therapy organization in order to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other facilities, are not considered to be service animals. Standard pet-related regulations and restrictions apply.

Sixty Grit said...

The store where I buy pet food has therapy dogs - two giant white labs that are as docile and sweet as dogs can be. They really do reduce stress - they are very sweet dogs.

My dogs are therapy dogs, too. They bite the faces off of my neighbor's dogs thereby saving me the trouble. Good dogs!