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History Making Bill…Animal Assisted Therapy Law

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History Making Bill…Animal Assisted Therapy Law

On October 1st 2013 Connecticut will make history by enacting the FIRST Animal Assisted Therapy Bill

As the first bill of its kinds Connecticut realized the emotional and psychology benefits of including an animal in the mental health therapy treatment process.

Some of the bill highlights include

  • Training  individuals on (1) the healing value of the human-animal bond 
for children, (2) the value of therapy animals in dealing with 
traumatic situations, and (3) the benefit of an animal assisted therapy 
program.
  • Collaboration with mental health 
care providers to incorporate animal assisted therapy into the therapy for children and youth.
  • Develop a coordinated volunteer canine crisis response team for crisis intervention.
  • Develop a results based 
accountability assessment of the results of animal assisted programs.

Below is the complete Connecticut Animal Assisted Therapy Bill 

History Making Bill Signed by Connecticut Governor – here is the actual bill

AN ACT CONCERNING ANIMAL THERAPY.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2013) (a) For purposes of this 
section, “animal assisted therapy” means goal-directed intervention in 
which animals are used as an integral part of the treatment process for 
individuals who have experienced mental, physical or emotional trauma and “animal assisted therapy community” 
means the local or regional entities possessing the staff and 
capabilities to engage in animal assisted therapy including, but not 
limited to, the Connecticut Humane Society, Soul Friends, Inc. and 
Animal Assisted Therapy Services, Inc.

(b) Not later than 
January 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Children and Families, within 
available appropriations, shall develop and implement training for 
certain employees of the Department of Children and Families and mental 
health care providers, on (1) the healing value of the human-animal bond 
for children, (2) the value of therapy animals in dealing with 
traumatic situations, and (3) the benefit of an animal assisted therapy 
program.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2014, the Commissioner 
of Children and Families, in consultation with the Governor’s Prevention
Partnership and the animal assisted therapy community and within available appropriations, shall develop and operate, or contract for, an
animal assisted therapy program. Such program shall: (1) Provide animal
 assisted therapy to children and youths living with trauma and loss; 
(2) provide animal assisted therapy to children and youths with 
behavioral health needs who are in the custody of the Department of 
Children and Families; (3) allow for collaboration with mental health 
care providers to incorporate animal assisted therapy into the therapy 
plan for youths or children; (4) promote the healing benefits of the 
human-animal bond by providing interactive empathetic training 
activities with therapy animals; (5) incorporate nonverbal learning into
the formulation of trauma treatment modalities; and (6) demonstrate 
positive outcomes for children.

(d) Not later than January 1, 
2014, the Commissioner of Children and Families, in consultation with 
the Commissioner of Agriculture and within available appropriations, 
shall develop a coordinated volunteer canine crisis response team. Such 
team shall consist of various handlers and canines that have been 
trained and certified to provide comfort and relief to individuals 
during and after traumatic events. Such team shall operate on a 
volunteer basis and shall be available to provide animal assisted 
therapy within twenty-four hours of receiving notice to do so.

(e) Not later than January 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Children and 
Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Agriculture and the 
joint standing committee on children, shall develop a results based 
accountability assessment of the results of the programs implemented 
pursuant to subsections (b) to (d), inclusive, of this section to (1) 
determine the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy, (2) begin the 
process of identifying curriculum-based animal assisted therapy as a 
potential best practice approach, and (3) demonstrate positive outcome 
measures in hopefulness, tied to resilience in the literature and other 
social emotional measures of healthy child development.

 



About the Author:

Kay Sudekum Trotter is a licensed professional counselor and supervisor, registered play therapist and supervisor, a national certified counselor and a certified equine assisted counselor. She holds a doctoral degree from the University of North Texas where she studied and practiced Play Therapy and Equine Assisted Counseling. Kay specializes in children and adolescents and adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. Kay also has extensive experience counseling individuals and couples are wrestling with abuse, trauma, grief, depression and emotional and behavioral disorders.

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