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American Humane Forms Human-Animal Bond Division, Including Animal-Assisted Therapy, Humane Ed and Pets & Women's Shelters

DENVER, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Humane Association today announced it has established a new division, the Human-Animal Bond Division, to further enhance and expand mankind's understanding of the power, the implications and the benefits of the connection between people and animals. The new group complements and provides a formal bridge between the organization's existing Animal Protection Division and its Children's Division, both of which have been in existence for more than 130 years.

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American Humane's Human-Animal Bond Division will highlight and build upon the organization's emerging national leadership in its recently initiated Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS)(TM) Program, The Link(R) between violence to people and violence to animals, its evolving animal-assisted therapy program, and its expanded humane education efforts.

Related to the formation of the new division, American Humane also plans to convene a national summit on the human-animal bond, and the organization will explore formation of an animal-assisted therapy coalition involving numerous other independent programs.

"Americans are demanding more research, training and information on the positive impact of the human-animal bond, as well as how to prevent the negative impact of what we call The Link," said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane. "Significant quantitative evidence exists that proves the powerful healing potential of animal-assisted therapy on people's lives. Whether as an adjunct treatment method used in a mental health center where children are being treated for the trauma of abuse, or as a comfort to a family during the final days in which a terminally ill loved one is in a hospice, animal-assisted therapy is making a tremendous difference in improving the well-being of a diverse group of people in need.

"In domestic violence situations, battered women often become prisoners in abusive relationships because they fear vengeful violence to their pets, should they leave them behind," Wheatley continued. "Many would flee to safety with their beloved pets, but so many women's shelters don't allow animals. Our Pets and Women's Shelters Program is designed to change that. Also, in humane education, we are teaching young people compassion for animals, as well as for their peers, which is especially important in a world that sometimes seems at the boiling point of violent human eruptions every day."

As early as 1894, American Humane publicly noted the link between animal abuse and other forms of social violence. Over the years, the organization has continued to examine this subject and inform educators, social workers and others about that important connection, in its efforts to protect children and animals and help break the cycle of violence.

In recent years, American Humane's focus on the human-animal bond has broadened to also encompass the very positive aspects of the relationship between people and animals, such as the therapeutic benefits of animal-assisted therapy. American Humane's Human-Animal Bond Division will address both aspects through an array of activities, including:

-- Enhance healthcare services and education -- increasing the rate of

healing and preparing children with important life skills -- by

providing direct services of trained animal-assisted therapy teams.

Further, educate professionals on the use of therapy animals as a viable

treatment, including addressing the urgency of ensuring that high

standards and safe, humane practices that protect therapy animals are


-- Develop new humane education curricula for use in classrooms from the

elementary to the college level, and for professionals and parents, as

well as undertaking new efforts to supplement classroom humane education

with an interactive, traveling museum exhibit and other projects.

-- Incorporate all of the organization's growing public education

about The Link, including hosting American Humane's National

Resource Center on The Link, and American Humane's new PAWS(TM)

Program, which helps domestic violence shelters accommodate their

residents' pets onsite to provide comfort and safety for battered

women, their children and their pets.

In broadening its leadership in the human-animal bond field, American Humane recently joined with the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work to establish the American Humane Endowed Chair, one of the first in the nation created to explore the expanding field of animal-assisted social work and research the bond between people and animals. Earlier, American Humane provided some of the seed money to establish the University of Denver's Institute for Human-Animal Connection, whose mission is to conduct research, training and education from a human-service and animal-welfare perspective. American Humane's resources on animal cruelty and violence in society are hosted by the university's Penrose Library.

"We are now conducting a national search for a senior director of the new division," Wheatley said. "We are certain we will attract the driving force necessary to propel the knowledge and understanding of the human-animal bond to a higher plane."

About American Humane

Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link(R) between violence to people and violence to animals, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane's regional office in Los Angeles is the authority behind the "No Animals Were Harmed"(R) end-credit disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane's office in Washington, D.C., is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. The American Humane Certified(TM) farm animal program is the nation's original independent certification and labeling program for humanely raised food. American Humane meets the strong, comprehensive standards of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, has been awarded the Independent Charities of America's "Best in America" Seal of Approval, and has received a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator, America's leading charity evaluator. Visit to learn more.

CONTACT: Kelley Weir


SOURCE American Humane Association
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