Position Statement

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Therapy Animals

American Humane supports animal-assisted therapy programs.

A therapy animal is defined as a type of animal-assisted intervention in which there is a “goal-directed intervention in which an animal meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings and may be group or individual in nature.” 

American Humane supports animal-assisted therapy programs under strict conditions: 

  • Participating animal handlers should be trained and certified and have the established right to use the animal in a therapy setting. 
  • Participating animals must be domesticated animals who have been humanely trained and are humanely treated. 
  • Participating animals’ medical health and behavior should be regularly assessed by a licensed veterinarian and a licensed therapy animal evaluator to ensure the handlers’ and their animals’ appropriateness for animal-assisted therapy service. 

American Humane advocates for the adherence to a therapeutic animal-assisted interaction protocol that conforms to infection control, risk management and other safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the facility in which the service is provided. 

American Humane advocates that all animal-assisted therapy programs abide by the resolutions adopted by the members of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), namely the IAHAIO Geneva Declaration and the IAHAIO Prague Declaration, relating to guidelines for human-animal interactions. American Humane also advocates that animal-assisted therapy programs abide by the Code of Ethics for animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy.