MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Monday, August 24, 2009

American Humane Association Launches Innovative ‘Therapy Animals Supporting Kids' Program

Anyone who has ever done Therapy Dog work will relate to this wonderful new program launched by American Humane for abused and neglected children. Therapy animals bring so much to those in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Hospice, Hospitals, Reading programs for children, and more. Helping children who have been traumatized to open up in therapy is key to their healing, and therapy animals help them do just that.

Taken from

American Humane Association Launches Innovative ‘Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK) ™’ Program

On August 17 The American Humane Association "officially launched an innovative new program that encourages and guides child welfare professionals on how to incorporate therapy animals into sessions with children who have been abused or neglected or who have witnessed violence. When children have suffered trauma, it is often difficult for them to speak of their experiences. Incorporating a therapy animal into the process can help a child open up and promote the healing process.

The new program is called “Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK) ™”. It was created by Allie Phillips, J.D., vice president of American Humane’s Public Policy Office and a former prosecuting attorney, and Diana McQuarrie, director of animal-assisted interventions for American Humane and a certified therapy-animal handler. They worked in cooperation with Delta Society® and top child protection professionals to produce the program. TASK was unveiled at the 21st Annual Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, which is considered the largest child abuse conference in the United States.

'As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of helping children feel comfortable when disclosing and testifying about abuse or trauma,' said co-author Phillips. 'Therapy animals provide that comfort and security. The TASK manual was written to help professionals understand this important dynamic that can help a child through the daunting court process.'

American Humane has long acknowledged the power of the human-animal bond, and currently trains and provides registered therapy animals to help people in need, especially children who have been abused or neglected or have witnessed trauma to others. To further support and advance this work, American Humane developed the new TASK national initiative.

It is widely accepted that therapy animals can help individuals who have suffered physical or emotional trauma, but TASK takes this concept one step further. The TASK Program provides guidance to child welfare professionals, attorneys and prosecutors, child protection workers, social workers, police officers, and any other professionals who work with children who have been maltreated and could benefit from involvement with therapy animals..."
You can learn more at:

(Above photos are of my grandson, Aaron (so not abused or neglected) and our dog, Maddie).

Where would we be without animals to help us in the myriad ways they do?

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life


Amy J said...

Thank you for your blog. I could not agree more that the human-animal bond transcends that of what human-human can accomplish. Through my organization ( we are able to reach highly troubled, traumatized youth through that connection. We pair behaviorally challenged youth with behaviorally challenged rescue dogs for 10 week sessions and the impact is invaluable for both.

Look forward to reading more!

Amy Johnson

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

Amy, thank you for your comment. As you are looking forward to reading more on my blog, I look forward to learning more about what you are doing. It sounds wonderful. Amazing, I've just been thinking in the last couple of days how I'd like to work to help rescued dogs and troubled youth benefit from each other. I will be visiting your website to learn more. Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing to help dogs and our youth!