Therapy Pets


Sharon Sun

Goat yoga is a rising form of animal therapy that combines young goats with yoga classes.

Sharon Sun, Photojournalist

People love animals as companions. Hence why we have pets in our households. But can this friendly bond between animals and humans serve to assist in therapy for humans? It can, and it’s called pet therapy.

Pet therapy is easily defined in its own name. It regards the assistance of animals in therapy for health issues, such as heart diseases and mental health disorders. Therapy itself is essentially treatment that is intended to alleviate or heal a health disorder. Pet therapy is a very broad term that has a variety of different ways and animals that can assist in pet therapy.

The most frequently seen type of pet therapy is animal visitation. Often, organizations will bring certified therapy animals around to hospitals to visit patients. Therapy pets will also come to mental health wellness centers, and some schools will have therapy animals come in to see any troubled students. 

Another type involves specially-trained animals assisting owners with disabilities. Blind owners may have guide dogs, deaf owners may have hearing dogs, and so on. Games can also help to develop motor skills in patients with disabilities.

The most common type of animals used for therapy are dogs. Dogs are often the most common pets found within households and easiest to train for therapeutic assistance for humans. However, for those who do not take kindly to dogs, cats are a common alternative. Though more difficult to train than dogs, cats are brought in as a calmer and less intimidating alternative.

Another industry rising out of animal therapy is goat yoga. Customers perform yoga as trained young goats climb up, around, and in between, providing a sort of therapeutic calming effect. Farah Mitha, a goat yoga instructor at the Laughing Frog Yoga Studio in Los Angeles, says that goats provide a therapeutic effect through way of endorphin release. “The animals don’t have any cares or worries in the world, so you can absorb that positive energy from them, and that’s why we have such a good time being around the goats.” 

I have been to Farah’s yoga studio and have experienced the growing phenomenon that is goat yoga. The kids climb up on the participants and amble throughout the room, where one can grab an opportunity to pet or hug the young goats. The whole experience is very new and relaxing even for anyone who is not a yoga lover and the presence of the goats attracts an exciting event for animal lovers.

Cissy Bai (12) puts in her own thoughts, saying that “pet therapy is so popular because seeing a happy animal radiates a positive energy.” For patients, pets bring the smiles and furry optimism that can help to alleviate health disorders.