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Animal therapy to help 26/11 victims
Published on 21 Dec. 2008 11:38 PM IST
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When Tina (name changed) lost her father in the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts, she became a recluse. For over 10 months Tina refused to leave her mother’s side, till one day she let go of her mother’s hand to hug a dog. Her tears on hugging the dog left Tina’s mother astonished and relieved...she was now sure that her daughter would come out of the trauma. This is but one of the many instances where animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has helped victims of trauma recover and resurrect their lives, according to Times News Network. City-based Animal Angels Foundation (AAF) headed by Minal Kavishwar, has offered help to victims of the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. And even as you read this, two of the AAF dogs Goldie and Onet, accompanied by four volunteers are helping victims in the tinsel town. “Two years ago, we helped the Bombay psychiatric association in their Rahat ka Ehsaas’ program initiated after the train blasts. Often, victims of post traumatic stress cannot express their emotions in words. Dogs can sense the emotions and the victims open up to the animals, cuddling them, hugging them, crying out unwept tears...and get set on the fast track to recovery,” Minal said. Following the 26/11 attacks, Harish Iyer, a Mumbai-based professional, started a blog to help the victims. “Offers to help poured in, but the one that touched me was the one from AAF. I am a survivor of childhood sex abuse...and if I’m living today, its all because of my dog. On Sunday, we will introduce AAT to Mumbaikars for the first time after the 26/11 blasts,” Iyer told TOI. Goldie, a golden retriever is the most experienced therapist at AAF, with five years of experience while it will be the first time for Onet, a one and half year old Saint Bernard. The AAF is the first Indian organisation to be registered with Delta International, an international organisation working in the field of AAT. After the 9/11 attacks in America, as a part of the survivors’ program of Red Cross International, several dogs helped on Ground Zero. Infact, Governor George Pataki personally honoured one of the dogs with a certificate in December 2001. Closer home, Harish relates the tale of a stray, later christened Sheru’. “Sheru kept barking at the terrorist Azmal after he opened fire at CST. All the other dogs ran away but Sheru stood his ground until he was killed,” he narrates.

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