Those with cancer are seeking unconditional love and understanding as well as a meaning of life. This can be found in the animal shelter.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Yes, I’m eligible
Yes, I’m 18 years old or older
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Website or social media url(s)
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Because of my job at the animal shelter I noticed once that one of the dogs had difficulty breathing. An X-Ray confirmed the worst diagnosis - an advanced stage of lung cancer. I wanted Cherry's last days to be filled with love and so I took her home where I quickly realised how much she liked the feeling of closeness and affection. Her gratitude made both of us overjoyed with love. This was a starting point for the idea of granting this love to cancer patients, as they also need unconditional understanding and devotion. It's not unlikely that some of them, because of the enormous stress, will start to avoid those close to them. The animal shelter can be a place where they find a new meaning of life, love and closeness.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The problem of loneliness and alienation that cancer patients face on an everyday basis. They are often misunderstood by family members or friends. That's where animals can help. They don't ask questions or analyse. They're opened to human love and closeness. The unconditional devotion gives those suffering from cancer new energy to fight and find a new meaning in life. Animals can help where humans can't.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
The shelter that I work at is one of the most innovative in Poland and has designated rooms for human-animal interactions and integration. We can also offer psycho oncologist support and supervision over the dog and feline-assisted therapy. Cancer patients need full support despite their prognosis, current attitude or fear. Pets offer everything with no questions asked. It's time to redefine the role of animals in a contemporary world. We no longer need them for protection but for their devotion, love and affection. A patient will start to build the bond and responsibility for the animal which helps to find a new strength to fight the sickness. One of the main therapeutic effects will come from physical touch. Through the sense of touch, warmth or vibrations we can improve the somatics. That will boost the immune system so important to fight against cancer.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
The innovation comes from including animals in cancer therapy. Finding the solution was preceded by Psycho-oncology research which confirmed that many of the patients find it difficult to maintain or build relationships. That's why sometimes the psychotherapy is not an option. Because animals are so purely altruistic and non-judgmental patients tend to open easily and let the love, mend and cure. Those new bonds mean new meaning in life. This feeling of acceptance and engagement is very important in convalescence process.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
In my project, the pet-human bond will support cancer patients on their road to recovery or to improve their quality of life. This bond will give them the feeling of being needed and not the burden, of being responsible for another being in need. To rebuilt the social skills. Animals full devotion and unconditional love give to patients new meaning in life. Many of those who suffered from cancer live alone, with grownup children and for them to feel loved and needed is a paramount matter. Those who feel helpless through this new bond can find the energy to fight.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
This project will result in a series of positive changes in society. It will allow for a new type of pet-human relation which further allows rebuilding the social interactions. It will bring attention to animals held in shelters and their potential. It will lower the cost of psychotherapy for cancer patients. Nowadays when full time working family members rarely have time for their affected relatives it is important to make sure that the latter feel loved and accepted. The therapeutic effects of being with pets, their absolute love and devotion will help patients and their families. Those who will build the bond will feel motivated to fight and to win. We're aiming to increase the survival rate of patients and volunteer numbers in the shelter. We also hope that those who will become cancer-free will think about adoption.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
I would like to use my experience in organising conferences for the veterinary industry, animal behaviourists and nutritionists to run training for other shelters employees and volunteers. I would like to make the pet-human relationship available to cancer patients all over Poland and using my international connection- all over Europe. It is important for shelters to be able to respond to those in need.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
This idea will benefit several groups of stakeholders. The primary group consists of those who suffer from cancer. Another one of the animals in the shelter. At last, the entire society will gain members who are more sensitive to the needs of animals. We expect the therapy expenses to drop saving the well-needed money. At the city level, the costs of the shelter will be driven down by more animals being adopted.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
The project can be initiated thanks to the funds from Ashoka Foundation. Further, the Local Action Groups would take over the financial responsibility along with fundings for cancer patients therapy.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Currently, I am a chairperson of the Seven Wishes Animal Foundation and the team consists of Veterinary doctors, animal behaviourists, a psycho oncologist and dog and feline-assisted therapists. We also have several experienced volunteers who can help guide cancer patients at the shelter.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
I'm very determined to see this project to become a large scale success. I can easily influence my team to fully support the project of innovative support for cancer patients through building relationships with animals from the shelter. For all the years we spent on helping animals we were always looking for the best homes for them. Now we can combine this goal with the support for those who are affected.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?