The Use of Dogs in Hospitals

Animal Assisted Therapy
By Amy McCullough, PhD, Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, MPH, & Molly Jenkins, MSW of American Humane Association (originally published in HABRI Central Briefs)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015), over 35 million people are hospitalized in the U.S. every year. Many hospitals across the country have incorporated animal programs, such as “animal-assisted therapy” (AAT), “animal-assisted activities” (AAA), “animal-assisted interactions or interventions” (AAI), resident animals, or pet visitation to give patients the opportunity to interact safely with dogs and to make the hospital environment more comfortable and less stressful. Continue reading

2015 in Pictures: Victories for America’s Children and Animals

Caucus of the Humane Bond

2015 was a remarkable year for America’s oldest national humanitarian organization – one in which we touched more than 42,000 lives every minute with lifesaving, life-affirming programs that made a difference for hundreds of millions of children and animals.  Here are just a few highlights of our work that you made possible this year:

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Butler Visits South Carolina to Help Flood Victims


The beginning of October brought unprecedented flooding to South Carolina and first responders, including American Humane Association’s Red Star Rescue team sprang into action, saving stranded residents from cars and homes (and in our case, frightened animals from abandoned houses and floating debris). Columbia, South Carolina had multiple dam breaches and record rainfall, causing water to engulf the roadways and overtake many homes. 

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Helping Those Who Keep Us Safe

Ike Weaver and Nitro and Daniel BelcherThe statistics are sobering. According to a recent five-year study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office (2012), approximately 1 in 4 recent combat veterans who received treatment through the Veterans’ Administration was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). As the conflicts continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, these numbers are likely to rise, driving increased need for PTS service dogs to support the trauma recovery of our nation’s heroes.

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping administer American Humane Association’s grant program, Wags4Patriots, which awards grants to military veterans to help offset the training and adoption costs for PTS service dogs. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors such as NCR Foundation and Kal Kan, American Humane Association awarded four new grants to military veterans. Here’s what two of them had to say: Continue reading

Canines and Childhood Cancer Study Presented at Conference


This month, I traveled to the American Society of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Conference in Phoenix, Arizona to present a poster showing preliminary data from American Humane Association’s Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) study. The CCC Study, funded by Zoetis, seeks to examine and document the healing effects of animal therapy on child cancer patients and their families.  This conference is attended by more than 1,000 pediatric hematologists and oncologists each year, including doctors from many of our research study sites. Pediatric oncologists from our participating children’s hospitals at U Mass, Vanderbilt and Randall stopped by the poster to talk about the study’s progress and share positive stories regarding their involvement in the CCC study and how much the children enjoy the dogs. Continue reading

Battle Buddies: A Mother’s Heartfelt Plea



This week, I head to Capitol Hill to advocate for America’s military and contract working dogs – our canine war heroes. I’ll be joined by Specialist Brent Grommet, Corporal Jeff DeYoung, and their battle buddies, with our celebrity champion, Naomi Judd. As we prepare to advocate for changes affecting military and contract working dogs, I am reminded of the healing power of the bond for battle buddies on both ends of the leash. Continue reading