In Memory Of:

Bruce Lee

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What is Animal Assisted Therapy/Animal Assisted Activities?


Animal Assisted Activities provide motivational, educational or/and recreational benefits to enhance quality of life in a person. A volunteer or a health care professional or para professional brings a rabbit to a long term facility to visit the residents. Although the staff is involved in the visits, no treatment goals have been set for the visit and aside from signing in and out, no records are kept.

In comparison, Animal assisted therapy is a goal-directed intervention in which a rabbit is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical-health care treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.

For example in AAT, hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities can be lonely and frightening for their residents and patients. Animal Assisted Therapy uses interaction with specially trained animals to help bring hope and happiness to these people. The animals provide a comforting friend. Patients or clients who have this interaction have shown both physical and psychological improvements. For disabled people, the focus of attention becomes the animal, not the disability. The animals help encourage people to remain active and optimistic and to respond better to therapy treatments.

IorekSKAAT sessions can be as simple as a “meet and greet” or as involved as a comprehensive therapy program. The small animal, usually a rabbit because it is a quieter animal,is in the therapy session with the client to help motivate towards the desired goal of the session. That may include motor skills training, emotional bonding, or other life skills training. But the animal must be matched to the client's needs and that can include other animals, such as dogs, cats, or horses at the farm clinic. Some of the benefits that rabbits and other small animals offer are:

•Positive physiological effects (decresed heart rate and blood pressure)

•Mental stimulation (recall memories)

•Feelings of acceptance and good rapport

•Outward focus

•Opportunities for empathy and nurturing

•Increased motivation

•Enrichment and socialization

•Physical therapy and contact

•Reduction of stress , anxiety and loneliness

•Increased motivation to study

•Increased intelligence

OTHER SERVICES would provide the following:
•Free tutoring

•Empowering children and adults with disabilities to achieve in school

•Teach about hygiene and physical care through extension of caring for rabbits , nutrition, human boding with animals and other people.

•Opportunities for volunteers , students in vet tech programs, students who are interested in helping furry small animals

•Community service hours are also welcome for any purpose.

•Offer internships and fellowships and earn credit for high school and college students under supervision of IorekSkAAT organization staff.

•pet sitting/boarding services offered
rabbits are available for birthday parties for children and other events or occasions.

We also provide opportunities for volunteers to help with our organization with all kinds of work provided by the organization. Community service hours are also welcome and helping students do a project for any class of any level is also welcome as well.

Rabbit therapy
Some of the rabbits here are pedigreed and some of them are showing prize winning rabbits. Some are ARBA registered rabbits especially the Flemish Giants since they are huge in size and show good strong health used for therapy purposes. Others are non pedigreed and fixed used for play therapy.

A friendly, confident rabbit can be a great therapy pet as they are cute and non-threatening. Many rabbits are small enough to be a good “lap size” therapy pet. A therapy rabbit is a well socialized, have a calm demeanor, enjoy being petted, and love being around people. A therapy rabbit is a healthy rabbit of any size, breed, color, shape, sex, or age (but needs to be at least one year old). The rabbit must be comfortable going to new places and riding in a car. He or she should be calm while being held and petted (without getting restless and suddenly trying to jump.)

Additionally, a therapy rabbit should have good litter box habits. This includes not eliminating while being held or while on a blanket or towel, for an hour or longer. Like a good therapy cat, a therapy rabbit should not be stressed by being around other therapy pets. As with our dog therapy members, rabbits must be on a four foot leash at all times.

You may use a harness or a collar to attach the leash to your rabbit. You may carry your rabbit. Some handlers use a pet stroller to carry and contain their therapy rabbit while on a visit, in addition to the harness or collar. In addition, rabbits can be in a baby carrier on your chest or in a padded bedding in a box on a wheelchair to stroll.

Your rabbit should be clean before each visit. Toenails should be clipped as short as safe. Brush and comb your rabbit to remove as much loose fur as possible. This is a good time to double check your rabbit’s body, especially eyes, ears, and rear end Putting a towel down first, when visiting, can help protect against accidentally scratching someone and minimize the fur left behind. Your practice visits (after successfully completing the Delta Pet Partners Evaluation for rabbits) give you the opportunity to discover whether or not your rabbit is appropriate for pet therapy work.

Does your rabbit seem to enjoy these visits? A stressed out rabbit is not a good therapy pet and should not be forced to continue. Signs of stress in a rabbit can include ears laid back tightly body tense with tail up pulling away, trying to hide, or even something as subtle as widening of the eyes.

In the past, dogs have been used most often as therapy animals. However, rabbits, cats, mice, rats and even guinea pigs are becoming popular. Most rabbit breeds have a quiet, gentle and loving nature, and therefore, make good creatures for therapy needs.

Depending on their upbringing, any rabbit can be a loving creature and provide pleasure to therapy patients; however, some breeds have a genetic makeup that makes them excellent rabbits for interaction with humans with special therapy needs. Breeds such as the American Sable, Angora, Beveren and Mini Lops are known to be docile rabbits that love human attention.

Cute balls of fur are having outstanding effects on many patients and clients everywhere.

The female Dutch rabbits are excellent mothers to their own offspring and that nurturing nature can extend to humans

Larger breeds such as the American Chinchilla and Flemish Giant (aka Gentle Giant) also make good therapy rabbits. The sheer size and gentleness of these rabbits help many patients open up and interact with the world around them, and the velvety coat of the Rex rabbit and fine silky coat of the Satin breed make these two breeds excellent for petting with patients having hand problems such as arthritis. The unique dense velvet like fur of the Mini Rex is ideal for tactile and calming therapy. Their playful gentle personality make them excellent companions for children facing social deficits , such as Aspegers syndrome or PDD/NOS

Rabbits are very clean animals making them ideal for working with immunodeficient individuals such as those undergoing cancer treatments. (hemophiliacs, very young children and diabetics should where wrist protectors due to the risk of scratches).

Here are just a few of the ways that Rabbit Assisted Animal Therapy Activities may benefit you or your facility:

Interaction with a therapy rabbit can teach empathy to living things, how to read body language (animals do not mislead the way humans do making it easy to read them). A client can learn to look outside of themselves and at their surrounding environment by observing the rabbits and their interactions. Children and adults who have not had the role model of parents can learn and fulfill the need to nurture and be nurtured by caring for a rabbit. Rabbits are unconditional in their acceptance. Making a patient/client feel included and loved.

Studies have shown that interaction with animals sparks social interaction and laughter among client groups. We have personally witnessed in our group therapy activities the smiles, laughter and interaction of patients helping each other, sharing stories and laughing with staff, visitors and each other! This is especially effective in hospital or nursing home settings as patients often feel depressed and isolated/alienated from their peers. The interaction with the rabbits breaks down those barriers! Clients may be more relaxed and willing to talk during or after animal visits.

Touch is one of the most beneficial forms of animal assisted therapy and the variety of fur types found in rabbits makes them ideal for this type of therapy activity. In cases where a client has been abused and physical touch has become a form of stress and anxiety animals can fill that instinctive need in a safe non threatening manner during the rehabilitation period. This interaction may also assist in teaching proper physical interaction. This is also true with some conditions such as ASD, with children who have difficulty in social situations and understanding physical limitations. Working with the rabbits can assist by modeling in a safe and controlled environment.

Studies have also shown the interaction with animals to significantly lower blood pressure and heart rates in patients

These are just a few of the healing abilities of our therapy activities.

Currently we work with the Mini rex (4-4.5 lbs) as well as the much larger Flemish Giant (13-20lbs) Each breed of rabbit offers a unique type of therapy and one may be better suited than they other. Therefore it is important that you discuss your unique needs with us so we may better match you with a rabbit.

For example the Flemish Giant are a very docile and calm breed making them ideal for the very young, the elderly and those lacking the gross motor skills of their peers.

The Mini rex are a more active but still calm breed with a very dense "velvety" fur offering an excellent calming tactile therapy. One could sit for hours just stroking the fur of a mini rex rabbit and our rabbits often enjoy snuggling up and having their heads stroked by children and adults alike.

We are currently working to provide rabbits that can be shown by those individuals needing to build confidence and self esteem. Showing the rabbits is beneficial as a tool to teach goal setting, coping and social skills. As well as following a specific standard of achievement.

We offer two types of placement. We can bring our team to you or your facility for hands on learning and interaction. This is great for schools, nursing homes, hospitals and community groups and other events. We can also place a rabbit with a family or individual on a permanent basis (some terms apply) where care will be the responsibility of the placement home. However IorekSKAAT will offer ongoing support where it is needed.

Other Services
We do except rescue rabbits only if we have space. We always are in need of foster parents for the rabbits.

Clinical testimony:
Just the simple pleasure of having a bunny sitting quietly in your lap is intensely soothing. Iorek had the pleasure of helping an elderly lady who just lost her husband of 50+ years. This poor lady was so devastated by her husband’s loss that she could not sleep. She simply sat in a chair, crying and mourning her husband. Iorek was brought over for a visit and put in her lap. He stretched out nice and quiet and before long, this lady began stroking him and looking him over. His calming nature combined with her steady slow stroking relaxed her so much that she finally fell asleep (so did Iorek)

There is nothing quite like a loving, trusting creature cuddling up against you with not a care in the world. That’s a bunny for you.

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