Animal Assisted Therapy is part of two new flows. The holistic flow speaks of holistic health and spiritual mind and body or system of values. The ecological flow encourages greater contact with nature, both vegetable and animal. The animal assisted therapy can be a valuable aid for people who are in crisis or have had an accident, but also for human beings in general. Positive emotions aroused animals have revealed, in this sense, an excellent antidote against diseases. Animals do not have the power to heal, but through his affection and unconditional love, promote relaxation, stability, and help address critical situations with greater serenity.According to a research made by E. Firedmann and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, pet owners who had been hospitalized with a heart disease, including strokes, after the surgery had better heart rate than a control group without pets. Some studies by Latham Foundation, Alameda, California, showed that by adding pets to AIDS patients therapy gave a reason to fight for life to patients, which led to the organization of the Pet Support Network for people with HIV/AIDS to care for these animals. Eduardo Tarnassi, in a note on what dogs can do for someone with this illness, holds that it is absolutely proven that pet becomes in one of the staunchest supporters for the patient, as it not only serves to convey affection but also to maximize responsibility. The dog is, among other things, someone for whom to live, someone who cares, someone who does not question, who does not condemn, only love (The Nation 24/11/1992). He adds that there are some doctors who fear patients with compromised immune systems are exposed to the animal diseases becoming infected, but veterinarians believe that if proper precautions are taken, the risk is almost nil.
But animal therapy is not only useful in cases of illness; pets often represent a great relief to bereaved people. It was verified even in cases of mourning the loss of a loved person, people who owned pets had lower tendency to despair and isolation.Another curious effect in prisoners was studied by Rupert Sheldrake. Prisons that allow pet visits or let prisoners having pets, have reduced the violence level, cases of suicide and the drug use, and there is a better relationship between inmates and prison staff.But how to explain this therapeutic power? Dr. Karen Allen of the Buffalo University, New York, which investigates the physiological effects of pets on humans, especially in blood pressure and stress, explains this effect “animals do not emit judgments, like people”, making them also, in his point of view, as excellent advisers (World 9/2/1998). People often talk to their pets: it is very common among those people with pets talk them about their concerns or confess things they do not reveal to their close friends. In addition, owning a pet provides, according to several researchers, greater sense of security and self-esteem and promotes sociability. It has shown having a pet encourages a sense of mutuality with others and helps develop social skills and sense of responsibility in children. It also stresses the importance of physical contact, that humans find so comforting (especially during childhood, when they need to be touched and love them to feel safe).