Canines and Childhood Cancer Study Overview

WHO: The American Humane Association began the Canines and Childhood Cancer (CCC) Study to measure the well-being effects of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for children with cancer, their parents/guardians, and the therapy dogs who visit them. The hypothesis is that children, their caregivers and the dogs will all experience less stress and anxiety than those who are not involved in animal-assisted therapy.

WHAT: AAT is an accessible and affordable adjunctive treatment option that holds promise for people from all ages and walks of life, including children. The documented benefits of animal-assisted therapy include: relaxation, physical exercise, unconditional support, improved social skills, enhanced self-confidence, and decreased loneliness and depression.

WHY: Each year in the U.S., nearly 13,000 children are newly diagnosed with cancer and more than 40,000 are in treatment at any given time.

WHEN: The study consists of a comprehensive needs assessment (Stage I), a six-month pilot study (Stage II), and a full clinical trial (Stage III—current stage).

WHERE: Five hospital sites are collecting data for the full clinical trial:

  • St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida
  • Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, Oregon
  • UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, California
  • UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center/Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts in Worcester/North Grafton, Massachusetts
  • Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee

HOW: The study is sponsored through a grant from Zoetis with matching funds from the Pfizer Foundation. Additional funds were received through a grant from the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation.