Gabriel's Angels visits facilities serving Arizona's at-risk children in the Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson metropolitan areas. Registered teams, consisting of an owner and pet, offer unconditional love while teaching confidence, respect, and empathy. They also focus on other life skills these children have not learned through traditional channels, such as the humane treatment of animals. We serve children from infants to 18 years of age. At the majority of our visits, we provide "animal-assisted activities" to Arizona's at-risk children. Animal-assisted activities are goal-related activities that improve the quality of the child's life through the use of the human-animal bond. We use the term Pet Therapy because the general population more easily recognizes it to mean animals visiting with human clients. Animal-assisted therapy, on the other hand, is used as part of a treatment process for a client. In animal-assisted therapy, the registered team would work with and under the direction of therapists who set therapeutic goals and evaluate the process.
“Arizona ranks fifth nationally in the rate of children with substantiated reports of abuse and neglect, almost twice the national average.”
-Child Welfare League of America
Gabriel’s Angels pet therapy program is the only Arizona program that offers healing pet therapy to at-risk children. The program utilizes animal-assisted activities to improve children’s emotional health and help them develop seven key social behaviors - attachment, empathy, respect, tolerance, confidence, self-regulation and affiliation.
A registered therapy team made up of an individual and his therapy pet visit the same children twice monthly for approximately one hour, at partner agencies who serve at-risk kids. All volunteer therapy teams are supported by Gabriel’s Angels and are provided hundreds of activities to engage the children. Research confirms that pet therapy visits create a bond of unconditional love between a dog and child that allows for the important core behaviors to be learned through continual interaction with the dog.
“The difference Gabriel’s Angels has made to our children is nothing short of phenomenal”.
Animal Assisted Reading improves a child’s confidence, trust, empathy, and emotional development. The Animals, Books, and Children (ABC) program operates in schools that serve at-risk children and provide literacy testing. Therapy teams visit a school weekly, seeing three children individually during a one-hour session - to improve reading skills, comprehension and speed, as well as help develop core social behaviors. The sessions have a 12-16 week duration. Therapy teams receive Gabriel’s Angels training, materials and support specific to this program.
School staff identify children that would benefit from individual reading practice in a safe and non-judgmental environment. The designated ABC therapy team reads with the same children each week so that a trusting, secure relationship evolves. During a 20-minute session, the individual child will have time to feel comfortable, work directly on reading skills, and conclude the visit by engaging in a fun behavioral development activity. A celebration and certificate ceremony concludes each program duration.
All schools are required to provide state or district pre and post-reading test scores so that Gabriel’s Angels can assess program efficacy.
“We are amazed at how much the ABC program supported our students with their willingness to read and with their reading progress. Students were immediately happy and calm, strengthening their ability to focus and engage. We also noticed an improvement with attendance from the students on the days of the program. The students voiced their excitement about being part of this program. Kenilworth is very excited to continue with the program this school year!”
Animal Assisted Therapy serves to facilitate and enhance the therapeutic relationship and experience between a child and his/her therapist.
The presence of a pet therapy team in a clinical setting is calming and fosters a comfortable environment for the child. The therapy animal develops and strengthens positive behaviors in the child, such as empathy, trust, confidence, and self-awareness. Once a child learns to be empathetic toward the dog and understands the therapy dog has feelings and emotions, a link is developed to enable the child to be sensitive to the feelings of others. The therapy animal also serves to be a catalyst for the child to open up and engage in constructive dialogue with the clinician.
Therapist, therapy team and the child meet weekly for 10-12 sessions to reach predetermined therapeutic goals. Gabriel’s Angels staff supports and helps to create effective communication between the clinician and therapy team.
"Gabriel's Angels Individual Intervention program has provided excellent opportunities to build trusting relationships for some of the most hurt and vulnerable of our youth. Working with a dog helps create a non-judgmental space, opening up the door for communication and honest expression of affection towards the dog. Sometimes it is easier for children to talk about their problems indirectly which they accomplish by relating to the therapy dog."
-Casa De Los Ninos
"Our child does not respond well to changes or anything interrupting her daily routine. Most recently she was able to meet challenges with humor and exhibit emotion regulation. We have no doubt that her work with therapy dog Sadie influenced this response."
-Pathways of Arizona