We believe in the scientifically proven power of human-animal bond and want to share this news! Our dogs help to wake up children in coma!
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
The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 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?
same, "Budzik" clinic - most modern and famous clinic for children in coma in Poland.
Website or social media url(s)
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
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.
Working as the Animal Assisted intervention instructor with my dog, I have been invited to the clinic for children in a coma. We have made several visits there, helping with rehabilitation. After one visit, Kris, one of the boys (advanced with rehabilitation process) found in his room the red dog ball, a favourite toy of the visiting dog. He mobilized himself, stand up from the bed and walk through the corridor to find the dog and return the ball. It was his first walk by his own will. He was training for it for weeks, but, as the training was painful and complex, he didn't want to do it himself. That inner power and motivation were the beginning of the new project.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Animal Assisted Intervention is still a new, innovative space in Poland. We do not have many train dogs and handlers, and a lot of children are left without support. There is a lot of research that proves the effectiveness of AAI, but none of them is investigating AAI with children in a coma. We want to describe the process, it's results, and the power of the human-dog bond that can be used in rehabilitation to make it more effective.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We want to publish the paper (case studies) with AAI results in coma treatment in cooperation with Life Science University (Poland). We want to show the results and power of this kind of therapy and make it more popular all over the country. We want to emphasize the dog's welfare and his role as a partner, not as a tool in the intervention.
We are going to train 20 human-dog teams to help them become trained, professional therapy team that can work in hospitals and clinics for children that need support in the rehabilitation process. That will help children to recover faster and in less stressful conditions.
We will make each trained team conduct at least 30 interventions in hospitals and clinics, with the supervision and support of an experienced instructor. During those interventions, we will reach a group of 600 children from hospitals from all over country. We will share pictures and articles to spread the results.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Our association, in cooperation with coma clinic stuff and professors, designed the idea of research and training projects in AAI. That would be the first research project worldwide, that tests the effectiveness of AAI in this, very specific group. To make it fully effective we need the help of trained volunteers and therapists, so during the project, we will prepare 20 human-dog teams to work, and describe the path of training, the requirements, and the minimum skills that dog and his handler need to have.
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)?
To be a professional human-dog team, that is able to help other people, the dog, and the handler need to have a very strong bond, based on trust, communication, and mutual understanding. Bond is also very important between the dog and the patient - if the bond is strong and close, the patient feels more secure and is ready to put in effort and exercise together with the dog. To use the strength of this bond, handlers need to be very sensitive and react to dogs' needs and communication.
The bond between the patients and the dogs helps them to overcome their weaknesses, traumas, feeling of being in-relevant. They become more confident, motivated, active, and the process of rehabilitation is easier and less painful.
The attachment bond also helps handlers to overcome their difficulties and focus on possibilities - to support others, to help, to build an association of joyful, happy people that can change the world for sick children.
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?
AAI for children in coma is a huge support for their rehabilitation process. It is important for them, to give them a force to fight for their health. It is also important for parents, who can see the joy and observe the results of rehabilitation. It also ensures volunteers that they are doing the important, needed job, and they have the power to change the world. AAI as support in rehabilitation gives faster results. Children are more motivated and focused on exercises – we will compare results of rehabilitation with and without dog using scientific methods. We will use medical equipment to have objective results(heart rate measurement, breathing monitoring, brain activity). Stay in a modern clinic uses a lot of money, as patients have several different therapies each day. It is huge saving to make the process faster and more succesfull.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
During the project, we will prepare the paper about AAI in rehabilitation for coma patients. The paper will be published and referred during the international conferences - we are a member of IAHAIO and take active participation in IAHAIO symposiums and conferences. Each year we organize AAI conference (250 participants).
We will prepare the manual about the training and requirements for AAI teams working in clinics and hospitals, especially with coma patients. we will monitor a number of manual downloads. With manual other organizations and handlers can start programs all over the country.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
Papers published as a result of the project will be used by different institutions to create own AAI programs to help children to recover faster and in less stressful conditions. The training manual will be the practical help for dog trainers and handlers to prepare their team to become a professional AAI team that is able to work in the hospital, especially with coma and rehabilitation patients. Materials from the project and dissemination activity will help AAI to be a more recognizable, professional and successful way of supporting recovery process. Intellectual outputs will also help parents all over the country to get reliable information about what is AAI and how it may support their children in need.
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?
To start research project we need to get funding from the sponsor. After publishing papers and manual,we will get fundings from the polish government and city hall grants. As we will have proved results, we will also get money from the polish health ministry. Previously, our work in Budzik clinic was co-funded from PFRON.Based on research we are going to write an application for AAI as a fully refund treatment for children in coma.
We have big experience in finding money for different projects, the most complicated part is research to prove and validate the method for the specific group.
We have also experience in fundraising, and a lot of privet donors and companies are interested in supporting treatment (but not research) for children
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?
We have mix team with practitioners - AAI handlers, and researchers from Life science University and medical stuff from Budzik Clinic. In our association team the most important role have AAI teams - for now we have 10 fully trained and proffesional temas that can work with coma patients. We have also proffesional project coordinatir - he can menage international projects with several partners - like Erasmus Plus, with nice research and practical outputs.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
Each year we organize a big (over 250 participants) international AAI conference in Poland. We have also nice facebook page with 6000 active followers interested in AAI. We have about 1000 newsletter subscirbents. Our PR team is veryy succesfull with getting wuth the information to different groups of readers, so we can easilly spread the news about the results and make people be interested with them.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.
Girl in a coma, age 7. She is working on neck muscle tension, eyesight -she needs to be able to keep her head up, if she wants to get successful. But she does not want to. She does not understand the need for rehabilitation, it hurts, she wants to lay down and rest. But, when the dog is in the room, she is really interested. She tries to keep her head up, to see the dog and follow his steps. She smiles. And she does not know that she is exercising right now. She is having a great time with her new friend. It is also a big difference for parents, who support rehabilitation, and for a therapist, who does not have to force the child to make harmful exercises.
14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?
Animal welfare is our big interest. Not every dog is suitable for this job and we put a huge effort to choose those who feel good at it. In our other projects, we do scientific research with prof. Adam Miklosi from Eötvös Loránd University and Norwegian Center of Antrozoology to find a useful tool/test to pick up suitable animals for the interventions. If the dog is suited, and well trained, he/she can benefit from interventions – the dog has a nice time and work to do together with the handler, feels safe and secure and uses his bond with handler. The dog can also bond with the patients and benefit from that. During our conferences and tv interviews, we highlight the value of dogs' welfare and we put a big effort to show that not every dog should work like that. We prove that dogs are intelligent, emotional and devoted to humans, people owe them protection and care.Families of children that our dogs help often change their attitude to their own pets and treat them like a family member
15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?
We have several AAI organizations in Poland who work with children in the hospitals, but our team is the only one that works in a coma clinic. We have a nice scientific aproach and we cooperate with different professionals – doctors, psychologists, dog trainers, educators, ethologists – and we build our AAI programs based on knowledge from different fields. We expand cooperation to the international level, to benefit more from the international exchange of information and good practices. That makes us unique, and this is our big strength – open mind for cooperation, possibilities of learning from others and sharing our work.
16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.
Our main partner in this project is Budzik Clinik with all it’s medical and therapeutical stuff. That's a great value, as we have the possibility of using their equipment to measure our work results, and we have their support and advice during planing the intervention and evaluating them. We collaborate with Norvegian Center of Anthrozoology as they have a fantastic, science-based approach for dog training and dog welfare, and preparing AAI teams to work. On the other hand, we have big experience in hospitals and clinics (and that kind of AAI is impossible in Norway). We collaborate with ELTE University to find a way to pick up the best dogs, who suits this job. We have several NGO partners in different hospitals, whose mission is to help children in need – together we will share results of this project and spread it in different institutions.
17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?
The project has several recognitions from polish hospitals - thank you letters and recommendations. There were a number of TV and Radio interviews and programs, and also the newspaper articles about our dogs helping children in hospitals.