American child psychologist Boris Levinson is credited with being the first to professionally recognize the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in the 1960s. Since then, the approach has become widely accepted. Some in the field say the positive effects on people are difficult to measure, making studies challenging, but the benefit to patients is enormous. "Animal-assisted activities can provide much-needed motivation, education or recreation to enhance a person's quality of life," said veterinarian Mary Craig, vice chair of the Pet Partners board.

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