In any animal-assisted therapy setting, the safety and welfare of all involved is paramount – from the students and other participants, to the staff and the animals.
To ensure these interventions are executed with the highest standards, we helped researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health develop much needed guidance and best practices, including unified safety and animal welfare guidelines applicable to any animal therapy programme or related interventions, as well as the first-ever comprehensive risk assessment tool for anima-assisted activities.
Animal-assisted interventions in educational or other settings have become increasingly more common across the world in recent years, outpacing human-animal interaction research. The team addressed the absence of unified, standardised guidelines or easy-to-use risk assessment tools to help providers implement these activities safely and effectively.
We connected with Dr. Nancy Gee , Director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at VCU Health to get her take on the new risk assessment tool, the work she presented at the International Society for Anthrozoology 2020 Virtual Conference.