"Angels with Paws" Dog Assisted Interventions with children with special educational needs

Entrecanes presents their projects with children with special educational needs in schools that cover 4 years and 6 different centers

Photo of Oscar Bueno
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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

Oscar Bueno

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Spain

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

We work in all the region of Asturias, in the northeast of Spain

Website or social media url(s)

www.entrecanes.org https://www.facebook.com/asociacionentrecanes https://twitter.com/entrecanes https://www.linkedin.com/in/asociaci%C3%B3n-entrecanes-530a7842/ https://www.instagram.com/asociacionentrecanes/

Date Started

The project started in November 2015

Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity

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?

  • €10k - €50k

Organisation Type

  • 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.

Helping people is so wonderful, working with your dogs is so great, why not to join both? We started where we guess many animal assisted interventions professionals started, and that is why we founded Entrecanes Association. Our story is a story of long term development, solid results, and a lot of children attended during the past 4 years.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Schools for children with dissabilities or special educational needs require a wide amount of educational strategies and as many approaches as possible to improve the education, inclusivity and the future adult life of their pupils. Communication, attention, motivation, emotional intelligence among others are the competences required and that is where a professional team with specially selected and trained dogs may help.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our association joins special education teachers, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals together with dog guides and more than 10 dogs, to create work teams that can work in a weekly basis in schools with children with special educational teams, in group and / or individual sessions, working on a wide range of educational needs, always with the presence of intervention dogs, specially trained and selected together with the presence of a dog guide that helps improve the welfare of the dog, the security of all participants and the fluency and performance of the session. Working closely with the teachers of each school, our professionals design and plan different kind of interventions. We can work individually or in groups, with short workshops of 8 to 12 sessions or with projects that last all the school years, and with goals that go from communication, emotional intelligence, attention, or currricular content, always with the participation of the dog.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Continuous assesment, coordination with the teacher's board of each school, programs designed individually, the presence of a dog handler in all sessions (as well as the education professional of Entrecanes, thus creating a three part team for the intervention) are amongst the most strong points of our approach to dog assisted interventions in special education.

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)?

The bond between animals (dogs, in this case) and humans are the actual basis of Animal Assisted Interventions. The benefits of this interaction are solidly proved, and our working metholodogy is based in those benefits. The motivation of participants improves by the presence of a dog, and the opportunity to interact with it. The emotional benefits of that interaction are also taken advantage of to help improve educational goals. Attention also improves from activities that do not include the participation of the dog to those that do. "Teaching" new abilities or handling our dogs during the sessions are also very rewarding to the children participating in the programs. For each child that takes part in our sessions, individual goals are designed together with their teachers, which will help their education and improve inclusivity in society.

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?

During the last four years, we have attended six different schools in Asturias, attended more than 100 children with special educational needs and in most of the centres, we continue with the sessions year after year. Children improve their emotional intelligence, communication, social skills, attention, among other competences. This improves their results in schools, helps them to prepare better for future adult life, improves the relation with their families, and improves the development of the education in the centres.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Once we have stablished an association that has been working successfully for the past eight years, we follow strict and well tested protocols when preparing a new dog, human care or education professional or a dog handler, so as to assure the same level of quality for anyone working with Entrecanes. Our plan is to open new regional branches of the Association and therefore keep always extending the amount of people attended, always keeping well tested quality standards.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

We believe that Animal Assisted Interventions can be developed in a professional way, and even though we are an NGO, all sessions are conducted by workers of the Association, thus creating jobs for professionals and not relying merely in volunteering work. But not looking for company profit in our activities, this assures the projects of the Association are offered to potential beneficiaries at the best possible cost.

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?

Our association finds its main way of sustainability through the centers we work with, that provide the funds for the sessions we develop there. That includes public schools, regional goverment, town halls, and private firms. As a NGO, we do also receive funds from sponsoring and public grants. The association has been working since 2012 increasing each year its hours of sessions, income and staff.

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?

Entrecanes now is formed by the following team; 2 Special Education teachers working full time 1 social worker working full time 3 dog handlers working full time (all of them with a degree in education) 10 intervention dogs 2 psychologists as volunteers 5 board members as volunteers. As our project has been growing, we add new professionals working full time that posses the required qualifications depending on the projects we want to face, as well as selecting and training new dogs.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

Since our project is a long term one, and what we find as the main problem is the budgeting of projects both for schools and other entities, the funds of the price would be used to extend the number of children we can attend, and the number of centres we can hold projects at.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Purina page or contact
  • Email

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

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2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

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3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

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4. Does this entry have potential to GROW & demonstrate LEADERSHIP?

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5. Is this entry VIABLE?

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Yes, absolutely! - 50%

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7. FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions or used an old model in a new way - 50%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 50%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 50%

Other option - 0%


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