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Animal welfare issues on the use of rabbits in an animal assisted therapy programme for children

By K. Loukaki, P. Koukoutsakis, N. Kostomitsopoulos

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Abstract

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a method of complementary treatment in the rehabilitation of many human illnesses and conditions. Although the dog is the most widely used therapy animal that is used in AAT programmes, the rabbit can also be used as an alternative animal species and complementary therapy for many diseases. It is an intelligent, human friendly and playful small animal, easily socialised and transported. Also, the rabbit has very good communication through its body language. A special bond also exists between children and rabbits, and in the animal world of children, the rabbit is a very popular animal mainly because of children's literature. As a result, rabbits elicit positive feelings in children and enhance their imagination. Based on previous experience from an AAT programme with rabbits in a children's hospital, the rabbit can be easily accepted by children with emotional or physical problems. In order for an AAT programme with a rabbit to be a success, it is very important to guarantee the good health and normal behaviour of the rabbit, as well as its proper welfare. The contribution and participation of a veterinarian during the design and the implementation of the programme are also very important for assuring the success of an AAT programme with rabbits.

Date 2011
Publication Title European Journal of Companion Animal Practice
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 167-170
ISBN/ISSN 1018-2357
Language English
Author Address 2nd Paediatric Clinic, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece. nkostom@bioacademy.gr
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Children
  7. Diseases
  8. Emotions
  9. Human-animal relationships
  10. Mammals
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. Primates
  13. rabbits
  14. Relationships
  15. Social psychology and social anthropology
  16. therapeutics
  17. therapy