Alessia Ramos, 9, interacts with a hamster during a therapy session at a hospital in Mexico City (CLAUDIO CRUZ)Nine-year-old Alessia Ramos gently pets a hamster at a Mexican hospital where animals ranging from Australian parakeets to a Siberian Husky are being used to provide mental health therapy. Eight dogs are also among the furry therapists at the National Center for Mental Health and Palliative Care in Mexico City. The facility is the only public hospital in Mexico using animals to treat mental illnesses, though such therapy is also practiced in other countries. There is now a "Harley and his friends" self-care and mental health program and even a comic distributed in public schools. It seeks to promote mental health, prevent or detect complications and intervene in already diagnosed problems, Ledesma said.