Mumbai schools call in pets to tackle student problems | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai schools call in pets to tackle student problems

Rohit Chavan, a Class 3 student of St Xavier’s School in Kanjumarg, has found a friend in Oscar, a therapy pet. The 7-year-old was introduced to the 2-year-old Labrador at an animal assisted therapy session in his school.

mumbai Updated: Jul 27, 2012 01:32 IST
Shweta Nair

Rohit Chavan, a Class 3 student of St Xavier’s School in Kanjumarg, has found a friend in Oscar, a therapy pet. The 7-year-old was introduced to the 2-year-old Labrador at an animal assisted therapy session in his school. Twice a week, Chavan gets to play with Oscar for 20 minutes, but only after he finishes homework.

Being hyperactive, mischievous and a bully, Chavan’s behaviour made him difficult to handle at school and home. However, all this has changed now.

“He does not bully the dog and loves playing with him and feeding him,” said Jhanvi Shethia, a psychologist with Animal Angel Foundation, which provides pets for therapy. “Post therapy, he has become sensitive to others’ needs and feelings.”

After seven months of having pet therapy in counseling sessions, the school feels the results are promising. “There were students who needed counseling and motivation. Currently, seven students are undergoing therapy twice a week,” said Gitanjali Salins, school principal.

Another student, Ratan Jain, 7, lacked social skills and was an introvert. Post therapy, Jain’s communication skills have improved. “He now uses complete sentences to express his feelings. He still finds it difficult to communicate with strangers but acknowledges their presence,” said Jain’s father.

“Every student has some behavioural issue or stress. Some overcome them, but a few are incapable of doing so. For them, this therapy would help,” said Vaidehi Tare, clinical psychologist at Animal Angels Foundation.

(Names changed on request)