"Doctor Dog" Program was launched in China by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Three "doctor" dogs Friday were brought to the recreation center at Beijing Huiling, which is a community service for disabled people. This is the first time animal therapy has been available for Chinese community.
The "Doctor Dog" Program was launched in China by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in October, 1998.
The dogs are accompanied by their owners and need to undergo an examination by a veterinarian surgeon and an IFAW representative, before they can participate in the program.
Ge Rui, IFAW Country Director in China, said that animal therapy is popular in many countries, and many animals are specially trained to assist people with physical and mental disabilities. Beijing is the only city in China to have such a program which will be expanded to other areas in China later.
Ge said the Doctor Dog Program can not only help disabled people show affection to the animals, but also can set up a good relationship between a human being and the animal.
Beijing Huiling development Officer Li Qian said the program offered a kind of new community service, and it is the first time she has worked with an international organization. She believes the program will work successfully in the community.
As a non-government organization, Beijing Huiling provides services for the mentally disabled through activities like group programs and vocational training.
(Xinhua News Agency February 08, 2002)