What is Dolphin Assisted Therapy?
Dolphin Assisted Therapy, or DAT, is an increasingly popular Animal Assisted Therapy made available through a growing number of programmes around the world and marketed as offering a cure or respite from human illness or disability.
Is DAT Safe?
Dolphins are wild animals and unpredictable, even when well-trained. People have suffered bites, bruises, scratches, abrasions and broken bones as a result of swimming with dolphins. Dolphins are large, strong animals and entering the water with them can present a risk to human health and safety. Disease transmission is a serious concern, as dolphins can carry diseases that can be transmittable to humans.
Does DAT Work?
Proponents of DAT have claimed it can be used to treat a whole range of physical and psychological conditions. But two independent reviews by senior Emory University scholars demonstrate that there is no proven scientific validity to DAT.
Despite DAT’s extensive promotion to the general public, the evidence that it produces enduring improvements in the core symptoms of any psychological disorder is nil” (Marino and Lilienfeld 2007).
They recommend that “Both practitioners of DAT and parents who are considering DAT for their children should be made aware that this treatment has yet to be subject to an adequate empirical test” (Marino & Lilienfeld 1998).
Is DAT Ethical for the Dolphins?
Dolphins are charismatic animals. Their obvious exuberance and apparent ‘playfulness’ evoke in us feelings of friendship and empathy. But DAT is not a service concerned with the welfare of dolphins! Methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be shockingly cruel and many dolphins die as a result. In captivity, dolphins have a lower survival rate than in the wild. The stress of their confinement prevents them from behaving normally – hunting, breeding, socialising, resting – often making them ill and resulting in premature death.
Please spread the word and denounce Dolphin Assisted Therapy. This practice is a hoax to draw in vulnerable families with special needs children, and does not actually yield any special results. Not only this, but this practice is inherently cruel to the dolphins. Please boycott all swim with and Dolphin therapy facilities.