Puppy Therapy Helps Cancer Patients Stay (Up)Beat


American Humane Association Animal Therapy Joe Andruzzi Foundation


At the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, positivity encapsulates everything we stand for. It’s our philosophy, our commitment, and the promise we make to ourselves and each other. Joe’s upbeat, positive attitude helped him conquer the toughest challenge in his life, non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma. We’re now dedicated to spreading our (Up)Beat approach to cancer patients and families throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey, encouraging them to live each and every day with positivity and a smile. 

We’re always ecstatic to find others that share our commitment to positivity in cancer care. The American Humane Association (AHA) recently launched a large-scale clinical trial testing the benefits of canine therapy for pediatric cancer patients. Their findings support a large body of interest in animal-assisted therapy (AAT), which reportedly shows an improvement in the physical and psychological well-being of patients who spend time with animals during recovery. Currently backed by a nearly $1 million grant from the Pfizer Foundation and Zoetis, a global animal health and medical company, AHA’s groundbreaking clinical trial is the first of its kind to document the therapeutic benefits of ATT. Five leading children’s hospitals around the nation will participate for 12 months, tracking blood pressure, heart rate and psychological responses in the kids, their families, caregivers, and the therapy dogs themselves.

There are countless anecdotal reports from doctors, patients, families and therapy dog owners that support canine therapy; however, hard evidence to validate these claims is necessary for government funding and nationwide operation. The general consensus is that animals make children happy, happy children have lower stress levels, and lower stress levels make for better recovery. John Harris, father of a seven year-old pediatric brain cancer patient, recently elaborated on his family’s experience with dog therapy in an NBC interview:

“[The dog] would get in my son’s lap and he’d stay there until he felt better. He was in a lot of pain and had a lot of nausea. He really needed the distraction.”

The Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s mission is to provide support to cancer patients, giving them help, hope, and a reason to smile. We believe positive results in this study and expansion of this program can help us all get one step closer to up-beating cancer by doing just that. Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO, said it best in an interview with the AHA:

“This clinical trial is an important step forward in identifying and understanding perhaps underused weapons in the war on childhood cancer.”


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