Cynophobia: Rescuing the Fearful Is Key to Rescuing More East End Dogs

There is a limited band of people in the Hamptons, who will open their hearts to adopting a dog from one of the many East End animal shelters. What we need to do is figure out a way to expand the pool of adopters in order to keep up with the need. Of course this is easier said than done.

Where is the last place you would expect an adoption agency to market their loving dogs? How about to those suffering from cynophobia?

Cynophobia is the abnormal fear of dogs. It is a specific type of phobia under the subtype “animal phobias.” It is widely reported that animal phobias are among the most common of the specific phobias. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders reports that only 10–30 percent of those suffering from a specific phobia will ever seek treatment.

That leaves a large percentage of those who suffer, without the opportunity to ever know what it is like to experience the unconditional love of a dog. If we could help these people get over their phobia, we could adopt more dogs than you can shake a stick at.

But how do we do it?

Exposure therapy is actually considered the most effective treatment for cynophobia. It simply involves the systematic and prolonged exposure to a dog until the patient is able to experience the situation without an adverse response. After that it’s sweet dog kisses all around.

I propose we start holding free “Helping Conquer Your Fear of Dogs” seminars around the East End. We’ll bring a bunch of face-licking, tail-wagging puppies to the lecture and voila—fear conquered.  I know it is not that simple and that cynophobia is a real and often serious condition, but why not give it a try?

I don’t expect 100 percent of the people who attend to magically be cured, but I do envisage that, under the right conditions, hearts can be won, fears can be erased and dogs can be adopted.

Maybe we should also let those suffering from cynophobia know that owning a dog has been demonstrated to increase the average life expectancy of the owner.

What do you think?

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