Instruction in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and animal-assisted activities (AAAs) teaches veterinary medical students to confidently and assertively maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of this union of animals and people. Instruction in AAT/AAA also addresses requirements by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education that accredited schools/colleges of veterinary medicine include in their standard curriculum the topics of the human-animal bond, behavior, and the contributions of the veterinarian to the overall public and professional health care teams. Entry-level veterinarians should be prepared to: (1) assure that animals who provide AAT/AAA are healthy enough to visit nursing homes, hospitals, or other institutions; (2) promote behavior testing that selects animals who will feel safe, comfortable, and connected; (3) advise facilities regarding infection control and ways to provide a safe environment where the animals, their handlers, and the people being visited will not be injured or become ill; and (4) advocate for their patients and show compassion for their clients when animals are determined to be inappropriate participants in AAT/AAA programs. This article presents AAT/AAA terminology, ways in which veterinarians can advocate for AAT/AAA, the advantages of being involved in AAT/AAA, a model AAT/AAA practicum from Tuskegee University's School of Veterinary Medicine (TUSVM), and examples of co-curricular activities in AAT/AAA by TUSVM's student volunteers.
|Publication Title||Journal of Veterinary Medical Education|
|Author Address||Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Al 36088, USA.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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