Paws for help!
There is an increase in Animal-assisted therapy in Bangalore.
There has been an increase in pet therapy across India in recent years according to Subhadra, the cofounder of wags ville, an animal-assisted therapy centre.
“Earlier not many people knew about this, but now more people are coming for therapy sessions. People even get their children who are autistic or are suffering from any chronic disease. There has been an increase of 40% in the number of clients in the past 1.5 years,” she added.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) refers to animals, mainly dogs, cats and horses, being used to assist clients suffering from health problems and mental disorders.
Several new ATT centres have opened across the city and pet cafes are also becoming popular. Aanvi, who is suffering from ADHD, says, “My therapist recommended me to adopt a therapy cat. It has helped in reducing panic attacks. Interaction with therapy cat has helped me channelize my emotions well.”
But sometimes the people at these centres are not certified therapists or trained medical professionals. This creates an unsafe space for the animals. Dhivakar Sathyamurthy, an animal rights activist, says, “Animals are subjected to training and it always involves some kind of torture. It is selfish and it is without animals’ consent in the training centres there is a chance that animals are made to work for long hours or are not fed well. Even if it’s legal, it doesn’t make it ethical. Most laws that are designed are human-centric. It’s like throwing animals under the bus.”
Psychologist Neha Singhal says that there should be more awareness amongst people regarding AAT. It is very different from having a pet at home; AAT is a specialized therapy with medical professionals.