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Animal assisted intervention (AAI)

13.6.2018

When former stray dogs become therapy dogs

In 2004, FOUR PAWS became the first organisation to launch an AAI programme in Romania. The Dogs for People project started with a mobile team providing therapy sessions in special center for kids with disabilities.     

In 2012, after 8 years working with children, FOUR PAWS extended the project to offer animal assisted activities (AAA) for institutionalized senior citizens in which therapy dogs visit patients with age-specific mental disabilities in retirement homes in Bucharest. The goal of AAA with elders is to support in building rapport, increasing self-esteem and motivation, and reducing loneliness and depression.

In early 2016, FOUR PAWS opened the first AAI center in Bucharest where children are offered weekly support and therapy from our dogs Mulan, Toto and Tuca, and their handler, completely free of charge. That same year, the scope of the project expanded beyond AAI into research in the field of human-animal interaction and through a partnership with the Psychology Faculty of the University of Bucharest into education, by offering practice and education opportunities to students.

In 2017, in an effort to meet the needs of a constantly changing society, our team developed the No Stress Programme, an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) aimed at reducing stress among company employees through interactions with dogs.

In 2015, FOUR PAWS launched the process to set up an AAI project in Bulgaria working with former stray dogs of Sofia. A team of experts, including a psychologist and a dog trainer, started the procedures and Smiley was trained as a therapy dog.

By the end of 2016, our Canistherapy project obtained the license from the Bulgarian Agency for Child Protection to perform animal assisted therapy sessions in the country.

In 2017, FOUR PAWS signed an agreement with the Municipality of Sofia and became the first organisation to launch an AAI project in Bulgaria. After a short pilot phase, Smiley and our team delivered their first animal assisted activities in Lozenets’ Center for children and adolescents. 

Since November 2017, Choko is on training weekly to become our second therapy dog.