The Taiwan Dr. Dog program was initiated by Ms. Shirley Chen in 1999, with help from Animal Asia Foundation in Hong Kong. It provides regular visits to nursing homes, hospitals and special education centers in the Taipei, TaiChung and KaoHsiung areas in Taiwan.
Currently, the Taiwan Dr. Dogs mainly provide visiting services for the elderly, mentally challenged patients, physically challenged or autistic children at institutions or in special programs. The warm company of our human volunteers and canine friends not only brighten up their days with laughters and joy, but also promote their physical and mental health through goal-oriented interactions and exercises under the team effects of our staff, volunteers and medical care specialists.
The Taiwan Dr. Dog program has two goals: First, we want to provide those in need with social contacts, motivation to regain physical strength, aids to therapy sessions, and opportunities to connect with man's best friends, our pet dogs. Second, by promoting Dr. Dogs' great work with our visits, we hope the society as a whole would recognize the significance of animal companions to man and show our respect to any living life, which in turn may alleviate the abandoned pet problems such the stray dog problem in Taiwan.
Between 2000 and 2005, the Taiwan Dr. Dog program became part of a few animal-assisted therapy research programs sponsored by the National Science Council, working in cooperation with the National Taipei College of Nursing, the First Social Welfare Foundation and the Graduate Program of Physical Therapy of National Taiwan University. In the past few years, the Taiwan Dr. Dog Program has also joined hands three times with the Taipei and KaoHsiung municipal shelters in the "A Shelter Dog Could be a Dr. Dog!" campaign, in an effort to turn around people's perception of shelter dogs.
In November of 2001, Taiwan Dr. Dog was officially registered as Formosa Animal-Assisted Activity and Therapy Association (FAAATA). The association aims to promote animal-assisted activities and therapy with the goal to improve the overall quality of society in aspects such as physical, mental and spiritual aspects through the companion of animals. The association also aims at promoting public understanding of the therapy dog program, strengthening human-animal bond, spreading the message of loving and respecting all lives, eventually promoting animal rights and animal welfare, and hence helping to resolve the stray animal problems.