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What do all three of these animals have in common? Besides the fact that all of them are mammals, the most important thing is that Molly, Babe, and Sarah are all part of a growing field called animal-assisted therapy (AAT). The humans who work with these animals to help people with special needs are animal therapists. The term can be confusing, because an animal therapist is not a therapist for animals, like a veterinarian—although the health and wel- fare of the animals they work with are very important to them. An animal therapist is a health-care professional who uses animals to help treat people with various mental and physical disabilities, or to help people who are dealing with abuse, stress, neglect, or other problems. Animal therapy is a diverse field. It can involve many dif- ferent kinds of animals, and trained professionals from a variety of health-related disciplines. It can be used in all types of settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, prisons, and residential treatment facilities. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteers who love animals. What all animal therapists share is a love and concern for both animals and people, a curious mind, and a desire to help people who may be confused, depressed, or in pain. Sometimes, for these people, an animal can turn out to be the best medicine of all.

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