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Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs

By T. J. Howell, L. Nieforth, C. Thomas-Pino, L. Samet, S. Agbonika, F. Cuevas-Pavincich, N. E. Fry, K. Hill, B. Jegatheesan, M. Kakinuma, M. MacNamara, S. Mattila-Rautiainen, A. Perry, C. Y. Tardif-Williams, E. A. Walsh, M. Winkle, M. Yamamoto, R. Yerbury, V. Rawat, K. Alm, A. Avci, T. Bailey, H. Baker, P. Benton, C. Binney, S. Boyle, H. Brandes, A. M. Carr, W. Coombe, K. Coulter, A. Darby, L. Davies, E. Delisle, M. J. Enders-Slegers, A. Fournier, M. Fox, N. Gee, T. M. Graham, A. Hamilton-Bruce, T. G. B. Hansen, L. Hart, M. Heirs, J. Hooper, R. Howe, E. Johnson, M. Jones, C. Karagiannis, E. Kieson, S. A. Kim, C. Kivlen, B. Lanning, H. Lewis, D. Linder, D. L. Mai, C. Mariti, R. Mead, G. M. Ferreira, D. Ngai, S. O'Keeffe, G. O'Connor, C. Olsen, E. Ormerod, E. R. Power, P. A. Pritchard, K. Rodriguez, D. Rook, M. B. Ruby, L. Schofield, T. Signal, J. Steel, W. Stone, M. Symonds, D. V. Rooy, T. Warda, M. Wilson, J. Young, P. Bennett

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The nomenclature used to describe animals working in roles supporting people can be confusing. The same term may be used to describe different roles, or two terms may mean the same thing. This confusion is evident among researchers, practitioners, and end users. Because certain animal roles are provided with legal protections and/or government-funding support in some jurisdictions, it is necessary to clearly define the existing terms to avoid confusion. The aim of this paper is to provide operationalized definitions for nine terms, which would be useful in many world regions: "assistance animal", "companion animal", "educational/school support animal", "emotional support animal", "facility animal", "service animal", "skilled companion animal", "therapy animal", and "visiting/visitation animal". At the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) conferences in 2018 and 2020, over 100 delegates participated in workshops to define these terms, many of whom co-authored this paper. Through an iterative process, we have defined the nine terms and explained how they differ from each other. We recommend phasing out two terms (i.e., "skilled companion animal" and "service animal") due to overlap with other terms that could potentially exacerbate confusion. The implications for several regions of the world are discussed.

Date 2022
Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 12
Issue 15
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani12151975
Author Address School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC 3552, Australia.OHAIRE, Comparative Pathobiology, Center for the Human Animal Bond, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.Human-Animal Interaction, Department of Animal and Agriculture, Hartpury University, Gloucester GL19 3BE, UK.School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA.Dogs Trust, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.Dogalov Human Support Initiative, Abuja 900108, Nigeria.Centro de Estudios en Bienestar y Convivencia Social, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago 7610658, Chile.Institute for Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA.EASE Working Group, College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PY, UK.College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.Department of Veterinary Medicine, Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University, Musashino, Tokyo 180-8602, Japan.Department of Social Work, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28607, USA.Sports and Exercise Medicine, Biomedicine, University of Eastern Finland, Yliopistonranta 1, 70600 Kuopio, Finland.Department of Anthrozoology, University of Exeter (alumnus), Exeter EX4 4PY, UK.Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, Canada.Cork Pet Behaviour Centre, P85 YF58 Cork, Ireland.Dogwood Therapy Services, Albuquerque, NM 87120, USA.Animal Assisted Interventions International, 6537 HN Nijmegen, The Netherlands.Department of Animal Sciences, Teikyo University of Science, Uenohara, Yamanashi 409-0193, Japan.Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.School of Health, Medical & Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, Denver, CO 80233, USA.Risk Frontiers, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia.Faculty of Law, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2019, Australia.Boynton Health, Office of Student Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.University Centre Sparsholt, University of Winchester, Sparsholt, Winchester SO21 2NF, UK.Dogs for Life, Caulfield South, VIC 3162, Australia.Halcyon CIC, Worcestershire WR5 3LF, UK.Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.The Program for Animal-Assisted-Psychotherapy, Tel-Hai College, Upper Galilee 1220800, Israel.Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.Animal Therapies Ltd., Gold Coast, QLD 4209, Australia.Management and Organizational Studies, Huron University College at Western University, London, ON N6G 1H3, Canada.Equine Therapy Unit, ChildVision National Education Centre for Blind Children, D09 WKOH Dublin, Ireland.Independent Researcher, Bedford MK40 2DU, UK.The Canadian Institute of Animal-Assisted Interventions, Montréal, QC H3V 1C7, Canada.Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University the Netherlands, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands.Department of Psychology, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN 56601, USA.School of Law & Social Justice, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK.Center for Human-Animal Interaction, School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.Independent Researcher, Toronto, ON M4E 3L9, Canada.Stroke Research Programme, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital & Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, Woodville South, SA 5011, Australia.Center for Human Animal Psychology, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark.School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.Clinical Animal Behaviour, Well Connected Canine, York YO24 3HG, UK.Faculty of Social Science, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK.School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems, University College Dublin, D04 V1W8 Dublin, Ireland.Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas 89183, NV, USA.Orygen Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.Lead The Way Institute Ferntree Gully, Boronia, VIC 3156, Australia.Hellenic Institute of Canine & Feline Behaviour, 15122 Athens, Greece.MiMer Centre, 247 95 Torna Hallestad, Sweden.Clinical Animal Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 28644, Korea.Occupational Therapy, Health Care Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.Department of Public Health, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA.Department of Education and Childhood Studies, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.Department of Clinical Sciences, Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy.Scottish SPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Dunfermline KY11 8RY, UK.Hong Kong Animal Assisted Therapy Association (HKAATA), Hong Kong, China.Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia.Independent Researcher, Cumbria CA17 4QD, UK.Dyrebar Omsorg AS, 1458 Fjellstrand, Norway.Society for Companion Animal Studies, Godmachester, Cambridgeshire PE29 2BQ, UK.Institute for Culture and Society, School of Social Sciences, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.Human-Animal Bond in Colorado, School of Social Work, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA.Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK.Solihull College and University Centre, Solihull B91 1SB, UK.The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK.School of Health, Medical & Applied Sciences, College of Psychology, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD 4702, Australia.Moray House School of Education and Sports Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, UK.Centre for Urban Transitions, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.Faculty of Health, Education and Society, The University of Northampton, Northampton NN1 5PH, UK.Independent Researcher, Sunbury, VIC 3429, Australia.School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.Allied Health and Human Performance, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal-assisted education
  3. Animal visitation programs
  4. Assistance animals
  5. Companion
  6. Emotional support animals
  7. facility animals
  8. Human-animal interactions
  9. open access
  10. Research
  11. Service animals
  12. therapy animals
  1. open access