A bill about animal-assisted therapy services is awaiting Governor Malloy's signature. The bill makes several changes to current law, including to add animal assisted activities to therapy. It also expands therapy teams beyond dogs.
Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the more government does, the less it does well.
The bill requires these teams get credentials from the state. It does not specify how DCF will credential the organizations and providers. Bolinsky fears this will be turned into a money making operation. He's concerned that many of the care teams are run by volunteers, and would be charged, slowing their response.
Bolinsky says having a state agency run this type of program, rather than letting it work as a community response seems like it would create more red tape and delays.
Bolinsky asked during debate if there were specific, documented complaints from those who rushed to comfort Sandy Hook residents after 12-14. He was told there were problems with everyone who wanted to help, being able to participate in giving assistance. The backer of the bill also said that some people said they would have liked if more Connecticut-based animals were available so there wasn't a gap when those animals had to go back to the states that they came from.
Part of the bill requires the Department of Children and Families Commissioner to identify and mobilize animal-assisted critical incident response teams statewide. He asked during debate who and how the teams would be identified and screened. A national organization, Pet Partners, would oversee the program and the teams themselves would be responsible for any certification fees.