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Robin Ganzert Heralds Start of New Study Examining Impact of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Pediatric Oncology Cases

Robin Ganzert sheds light on a breakthrough clinical trial studying how animal-assisted therapy may benefit pediatric oncology patients and their families as well as the therapy animals.
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    WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The human-animal bond is not a new concept, but Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association (AHA), is taking it a step further and delving a little deeper. In collaboration with Zoetis Inc., the AHA has played an instrumental role in the launching of a full clinical trial to study the effects of animal-assisted therapy on pediatric oncology patients and their families. The study, known as the Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) Study, is the first of its kind to study this interaction, explains a recent article on Business Wire.

Therapy dogs are often used in different settings throughout the medical community and beyond. Animal-assisted therapy is a resource that practitioners have found to benefit patients and families, and there are many anecdotal stories to support this. However, this clinical trial seeks to unveil hard evidence that validates these claims and explores the best ways to implement animal-assisted therapy in pediatric oncology settings. Not only will the study examine the effects on patients and their families regarding factors such as stress and anxiety, but also how the therapy dogs themselves are impacted.

The study will take place at five of the nation's top children's hospitals. They include: Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, OR; UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, CA; Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN; St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa, FL; and UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center in Worcester, MA, in partnership with Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts in North Grafton, MA.

The start dates will differ for each site, but they will each collect data for approximately 12 months. The participants are children ages three through 12 who are newly diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer and undergo regular chemotherapy in the outpatient clinic. The CCC Study will help researchers to learn more about how animal-assisted therapy affects stress, anxiety, and quality of life experienced by these young patients and their families.

"We know that animals have a therapeutic effect on people," says Dr. Robin Ganzert, "but now we are seeking to understand it even further. This clinical trial could change the way that we approach animal-assisted therapy and broaden its beneficial use in the medical community, especially when treating oncology patients. We will also examine the impact of these services on the therapy dogs themselves to gain a better understanding of how they are affected as well."

This 12-month clinical trial is the next step in advancing the research study. In early 2013 the AHA and Zoetis conducted a six-month pilot study and produced a comprehensive literature review on pediatric oncology and animal-assisted therapy. The research teams have carefully planned and prepared for this next stage to continue their investigation into this realm of medical care.

"We are excited to see what the results of this study hold and what it means for the future of both animal-assisted therapy and pediatric cancer treatment," say Dr. Robin Ganzert. "It has the potential to open many doors."


Robin Ganzert has served as the president and CEO of the American Humane Association since 2010. She has played an instrumental role in leading the organization to become more relevant and active throughout many facets of the non-profit community, spearheading initiatives such as No Animals Were Harmed, Red Star Rescue, Wags4Patriots, Hero Dog Awards, and Humane Heroes Club. Dr. Ganzert is committed to upholding the AHA's mission of protecting the well-being, wellness, and welfare of animals and children everywhere and maximizing the potential of the human-animal bond.

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