Leaving a mark

An Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Programme for Children Who Have Been Exposed to Gender-Based Violence.

Photo of Josune
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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

Josune Azpiroz Imaz

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Spain

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

www.biakbat.eus Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/biakbat/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/biak_bat/?hl=es Twitter: https://twitter.com/biakbat_iaa LInkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/biak-bat-intervenciones-asistidas-con-animales/?viewAsMember=true

Date Started


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences

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?

  • €1k - €10k

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.

Biak Bat, is a non-profit association dedicated to Assisted Animal Interventions. It is founded by Iosu, dog trainer, He had a special childhood, in which the bond with animals was decisive to be the safe and confident adult he is today. With Josune, his lifelong partner and Psychologist, they unite their passions: animals and Psychology and from their social commitment to equality and child protection, they founded Biak Bat. A social project to promote the improvement of people's quality of life through interaction with animals, based on the founders' own childhood experience.

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

Gender-based violence is one of the most serious social and health problems faced by women around the world. Importantly, it has a negative impact not only on the woman’s health, but also on the children's. Exposure to domestic violence has been associated with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, alongside aggression or other problem behaviours. They may also experience symptoms associated with PTSD, social and academic difficulties

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

Research has shown that interacting with or being in the presence of animals can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve certain physiological markers of the stress response and wellbeing. Leaving a mark, is a animal assisted therapy programme for children (6-16 years) who had been exposed to domestic violence. AAT are structured therapies involving animals that are employed in health settings with the aim of achieving certain therapeutic benefits or improvements in health and wellbeing- The use of AATs is an emerging notably in the treatment of children and adolescents who have experienced childhood trauma. A key premise isthe innate qualities of animals can facilitate and maximize the benefits of the therapeutic process. "Leaving a mark" programme comprises of 5 modules(establishing a secure base, psychoeducation, arousal regulation and stress management,emotion expression and regulation, and conclusion)and a total of 14 weekly sessions. We based on two models: trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy and AAT for victims of childhood trauma.Our expectation was that these children would present fewer symptoms following their participate in this programme.

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

We innovate with the users, preventing gender-based violence and promoting therapeutic initiatives for children who are exposed to, is are priority objectives of the UN´s Global Strategy for Women’s,Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.However, in many countries,the children were invisible victims of this social problem. In Spain 800.000 children are exposed to this violence, but until 2015 they have nor been considered victims of this violence, and consequently they dont received the necessary psychosocial support. The need to identify and promote effective therapeutic initiatives for children who have been exposed to it is the origin of this project, so we innovate the model of intervention (AAT) and with the scientific study of the effects

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)?

A key premise here is that the innate qualities of animals can facilitate and maximize the benefits of the therapeutic process. These children often dont trust adults, but on a dog. So they bring confidence, security, play and affection, so basic in the therapeutic process. Studies also suggest that the inclusion of animals can boost treatment adherence and motivation, which is a key aspect to consider in the context of therapy for individuals who have suffered traumatic experiences, among whom dropout rates tend to be high, a number of recent studies have reported promising results when using an Animal Assisted Intervention with the aim of improving health and preventing risk behaviours among children and adolescents who have suffered traumatic experiences. In general, the use of such interventions (AAI) has been associated with an improvement in symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Research also suggests that AAIs may help to improve psychosocial adaptation and resilience and promote more secure attachments. So, the pet human bond help this children to overcome de violence and trauma, thanks to a program coordinated by health espezialized professionals

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?

From the beginning of the project we have an agreement with the University of the Basque Country to do a Pilot study. The aims of this study were to implement Leaving a Mark, an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programme for children who have been exposed to gender-based violence, and to examine its effect on their associated clinical symptoms that were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) before and after participating in the therapy programme. At present we have treated 22 children ( 6 children each year) and their mothers from 3 different areas ( urban and rural areas) of Navarra. The satisfaction of mothers and children is very high. It also generates a social impact through its research, in society in general and in the scientific one in particular, by raising awareness and knowledge of this social problem and the effectiveness of Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT)

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

The strategie for scaling our impact, is relationated to geographic spread, increasing the intervention zones first of all, to different parts of our community (Navarra) and other near communities, for example Basque Country. In the medium term, we formed human and animal teams to replicate the program in different areas of Navarra first, then in border communities, other communities in Spain and finally, in other countries (with AAII) Work and training protocols of the dogs participating in the program will be established, in this way we increased the impact and the sample for the study

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

From Biak Bat we try to involve society in the development of the programs we carry out, society and its participation is essential. We encourage them to participate in different parts of the process and to perceive that they are part of the change, in different ways from dissemination, fundraising, volunteering etc. The increase of the intervention zone will first be necessary to work with the community of each zone, and then implement the program in that zone. It would work with the social and educational field, as well as with the business fabric in case it was necessary for them to collaborate economically, as well as in dissemination or volunteering.

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?

It is a free program for participants, so it is necessary to have several sources of funding. In the first two years of intervention, the project have differents sources of funding. On 2017 and 2018 the fund was from private foundations (80%), state subsidies (80%) and own funds ( 20%): merchandaising, lottery, professional training) . On 2019 and 2020, it was full financed with the budgets of the community of Navarra, through a direct agreement. nue with the public fund from de Government of Navarra. So in the short, medium and long term the financial plan is to maintain public funding and get an agreement for 4 years and increase the budget.

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?

The team is made up of different professionals and animals. On the one hand, a psychologist specializing in child intervention and animal assisted intervention is the project coordinator (full), other psychologist is responsible for the research and technical coordinator. The canine educator (part) responsible for animal training and welfare and we have a canine team composed of 5 dogs and 2 cats specifically educated and experienced for the development of their function in welfare conditions.

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

If we get the award it is a recognition of our work and that of many people and entities in the field of animal interventions and a recognition of the value that animals can bring to social welfare. it would be a great step in recognizing the value of animals in the repair of childhood trauma, as well as the importance of preventing domestic violence and protecting children. In this way society and public institutions will rely on entities such as ours and will support more support programs for unprotected children.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

The project involved 3 stages.We began contacting the social services’ domestic violence teams in the different areas of Navarra. Explaining the project and requesting their help in recruiting participants. We then proceeded to record sociodemographic information and check that potential participants fulfilled the inclusion criteria. II stage: Mothers were asked to complete the CBCL, and then we began to implement the AAI programme. Comprises of 5 modules and a total of 14 weekly sessions, each lasting one hour. At first we create a therapeutic setting, build a positive therapeutic alliance, playing with the dog, grooming and feeding. After, we work to normalize the child’s and the mother’s response to the traumatic event, the dog support the children. For the arousal regulation, first shown techniques of relaxation and the interactio with the dog helps to relax. For the emotion expression skills, the support of the dog is a key and playing with them the open emotionally easier.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

On the one hand, the study was approved by the Ethical Review Board of the University of the Basque Country. he welfare of the animals that participate is key in the program since if they do not participate in welfare conditions, it will not be possible to generate welfare in people. We rely on the One welfare vision. All the dogs that participate have been adopted, this is the second opportunity ( for example, they came from families who couldn't take care of them). Also, they are selected to participate in a programme and with this characteristics and they have three years of experience participating in AAI programmes. The training trough positive reinforcement,offers cognitive stimulation and participating with a reference guide that brings confidence, reinforce the secure attachment between them. They are dogs that like children and playing with them and their company, so it is an opportunity to receive love from children with much love to give, they make a perfect team.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

The project we present is the only program of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for children exposed to domestic violence in Navarra. Not only that, there is no program with these characteristics in all of Spain. In the case of research, we could say that it is the first that unites both issues. So it is, triple innovative.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

In addition to the work carried out in coordination throughout the program with the Social Services, as well as with the University of the Basque Country, the synergies with entities of the territory dedicated to the domestic violence and children protection is the kye, for example: Department of Family and Minors of the Government of Navarra, with the Comprehensive Attention Service for Victims of Gender Violence (EAIV) and the Institute for Equality of Navarra and the Parliament of Navarra to financing and supporting the programme. In the field of Animal Interventions, the alliance and the support with AAII (Animal Assisted Intervention International) wich we are associate member, is important. Also with other entities of Spain dedicated to AAI that have extensive experience and social commitment that want to be part of the program, to replicate the programme and learn from each other.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

At the moment we have not received any official recognition. The work and smiles of families and children is the biggest prize

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

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

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry VIABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 33.3%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

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 - 50%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 50%

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%

8. FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 100%


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