Target: Robin R. Ganzert, CEO of American Humane Association (AHA)
Goal: Support the AHA’s new research project studying the effects of animal assisted therapy for children with cancer
The American Humane Association (AHA) recently launched a research study focused on the connection between kids with cancer who are regularly visited by friendly, happy animals, like dogs and health improvements. It is thought to be the first clinical study based on the physical and psychological effects of animal assisted therapy (AAT). There is a significant lack of scientific research in this area; while it might seem simple to know that the bonds between humans and animals can work miracles, there is little data to prove this idea. The sooner this study receives support and recognition, the sooner we can launch AAT programs across the nation to help children with cancer.
According to the AHA, there are currently 40,000 kids with cancer being treated across America and 13,000 newly diagnosed each year. Despite the fact that billions are spent trying to find cures and treatments, AAT is a relatively unstudied approach. “While studies have suggested the benefits of AAT, the majority of these findings have largely been anecdotal and have lacked scientific rigor, thus hindering the ability of AAT to be recognized by those in the research, funding and healthcare fields as a sound treatment option,” said a spokesperson from the AHA
The first hurdle has been crossed: the research project has been launched and will soon draw to a close one year’s worth of data gathered from tracking 100 participants ages 3-12. The next step is to make sure this study garners attention in the community: with the scientific evidence in place, hospitals across America can have reliable data to cite for funding to implement their own programs. “A clinical trial that will no doubt be beneficial to the kids gives a lot more credence for hospitals around the country to use it,” explained Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, a pediatric cancer expert at Texas Children’s Hospital. “I think [AAT] plays a huge role. If [the children] are happy and they have a good outlook, they’re much more likely to tolerate their medicines.”
Cancer is an ongoing battle affecting 40,000 children, with 13,000 new diagnoses each year. Animal assisted therapy is a highly promising new treatment and needs support so it can be implemented across the nation. The more traction this study receives, the sooner it can be implemented in hundreds of hospitals to help the thousands of children suffering every day.
Dear CEO Ganzert,
I recently learned about the animal assisted therapy study currently being done by the American Humane Association. The research focuses on the potential positive effects shown in children with cancer who spend time with friendly animals, such as a visit from a dog. Preliminary research has shown a positive trend so far in sick children who have bonds with animals and gives hope that this will be a successful new treatment method.
I wanted to thank you for running this study, and to give it my support and attention. Once this study is complete, it can be referenced as scientific evidence and used to implement AAT programs across America. I look forward to seeing the completed study and continuing to bring attention to the issue until these programs are launched in hospitals across the nation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Raul A. via Flickr