Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs
A Note on Standards
2. Materials and Methods
2.2. Materials and Procedure
3. Results—Recommended Definitions
3.1. Assistance Animal
- A guide animal for a person with a vision impairment helps its handler navigate around the neighborhood, avoiding stepping onto the street and into oncoming traffic, and avoiding potholes and other hazards on the walking path.
- A person with a psychological disability who becomes disoriented and needs to be taken home. In this case, the person may not be in a position to request help from the animal—the animal must be trained to be able to recognize the need and perform the task.
- An assistance animal for a person on the autism spectrum who is trained to lie on the person when that person is extremely distressed, providing a tactile stimulus that helps ground the person to help them calm down.
- A medical alert animal who alerts its handler with diabetes, or the handler’s carer, of a potentially dangerous fluctuation in their blood glucose levels. The animal may also be trained to bring necessary supplies (e.g., test kit) to assist the person.
3.2. Companion Animal
3.3. Educational/School Support Animal
3.4. Emotional Support Animal
3.5. Facility Animal
3.6. Service Animal
3.7. Skilled Companion Animal
3.8. Therapy Animal
3.9. Visitation or Visiting Animal
4.1. Elevate the Status of Companion Animals to Negate the Need for Emotional Support Animal Documentation
4.2. Implications for Different Regions of the World
4.3. Animal Welfare Considerations
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Term||General Purpose||Training Standards *||Public Access **||Key Points|
|Assistance Animal||Lives with and supports a handler with a disability/disabilities (physical, developmental, intellectual, neurological, and/or psychological)||Advanced||Yes||Umbrella term for an animal typically living with a handler with a disability (or a family member who could serve as the handler) that has been trained to perform tasks that mitigate effects of that specific disability, with behavior and hygiene maintenance suitable for public access.|
|Companion Animal||Companionship||None||No||Synonymous with pet (i.e., an animal kept purely for companionship). Other benefits to well-being may be enjoyed by the owner, but this is not a requirement.|
|Educational support—improve learning or developmental outcomes for students||High||No||An animal who works in educational settings with a handler to improve educational outcomes for participants. Educational activities must be structured, goal-directed, and overseen by a licensed teacher or pedagogue.|
|Emotional Support |
|Emotional support, primarily in the home, for an owner with a diagnosed disability||None||No||Differs from assistance animal in training standards for public access and does not perform specific tasks to provide disability support tasks/behaviors.|
|Depends on the specific role of the animal||High||No||Typically, an animal with training to work in a specific facility (e.g., a hospital) or type of facility (e.g., legal settings). Recommend mostly phasing this term out due to broad, vague nature of current use and overlap with other terms in most cases, with the exception of animals working in legal settings, which we recommend calling “justice facility animal”.|
|Synonymous with assistance animal||Advanced||Yes||This term is commonly used to describe assistance animals in some North American and European countries. Recommend phasing out and using the term “assistance animal”.|
|Disability support for an individual with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator||Advanced||Yes—when with facilitator||Term used by some assistance animal providers. |
Recommend phasing out and using the term “assistance animal”.
|Improve specific therapeutic outcomes||High||No||Animal is integrated into therapy or treatment which must be structured, goal-directed, and overseen by a |
licensed healthcare professional trained in the relevant therapeutic field.
|Visitation or Visiting Animal||Improve general quality of life, various settings (e.g., hospitals, aged care, residential care)||High||No||Well-trained animal–handler team, primarily performed on a non-professional or volunteer basis. Differs from therapy animal (above) as programs are unstructured with no specific therapeutic goals, although some participants may experience benefits to well-being.|
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Howell, T.J.; Nieforth, L.; Thomas-Pino, C.; Samet, L.; Agbonika, S.; Cuevas-Pavincich, F.; Fry, N.E.; Hill, K.; Jegatheesan, B.; Kakinuma, M.; MacNamara, M.; Mattila-Rautiainen, S.; Perry, A.; Tardif-Williams, C.Y.; Walsh, E.A.; Winkle, M.; Yamamoto, M.; Yerbury, R.; Rawat, V.; Alm, K.; Avci, A.; Bailey, T.; Baker, H.; Benton, P.; Binney, C.; Boyle, S.; Brandes, H.; Carr, A.M.; Coombe, W.; Coulter, K.; Darby, A.; Davies, L.; Delisle, E.; Enders-Slegers, M.-J.; Fournier, A.; Fox, M.; Gee, N.; Graham, T.M.; Hamilton-Bruce, A.; Hansen, T.G.B.; Hart, L.; Heirs, M.; Hooper, J.; Howe, R.; Johnson, E.; Jones, M.; Karagiannis, C.; Kieson, E.; Kim, S.-A.; Kivlen, C.; Lanning, B.; Lewis, H.; Linder, D.; Mai, D.L.; Mariti, C.; Mead, R.; Ferreira, G.M.; Ngai, D.; O’Keeffe, S.; O’Connor, G.; Olsen, C.; Ormerod, E.; Power, E.R.; Pritchard, P.A.; Rodriguez, K.; Rook, D.; Ruby, M.B.; Schofield, L.; Signal, T.; Steel, J.; Stone, W.; Symonds, M.; Rooy, D.v.; Warda, T.; Wilson, M.; Young, J.; Bennett, P. Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs. Animals 2022, 12, 1975. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151975
Howell TJ, Nieforth L, Thomas-Pino C, Samet L, Agbonika S, Cuevas-Pavincich F, Fry NE, Hill K, Jegatheesan B, Kakinuma M, MacNamara M, Mattila-Rautiainen S, Perry A, Tardif-Williams CY, Walsh EA, Winkle M, Yamamoto M, Yerbury R, Rawat V, Alm K, Avci A, Bailey T, Baker H, Benton P, Binney C, Boyle S, Brandes H, Carr AM, Coombe W, Coulter K, Darby A, Davies L, Delisle E, Enders-Slegers M-J, Fournier A, Fox M, Gee N, Graham TM, Hamilton-Bruce A, Hansen TGB, Hart L, Heirs M, Hooper J, Howe R, Johnson E, Jones M, Karagiannis C, Kieson E, Kim S-A, Kivlen C, Lanning B, Lewis H, Linder D, Mai DL, Mariti C, Mead R, Ferreira GM, Ngai D, O’Keeffe S, O’Connor G, Olsen C, Ormerod E, Power ER, Pritchard PA, Rodriguez K, Rook D, Ruby MB, Schofield L, Signal T, Steel J, Stone W, Symonds M, Rooy Dv, Warda T, Wilson M, Young J, Bennett P. Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs. Animals. 2022; 12(15):1975. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151975Chicago/Turabian Style
Howell, Tiffani J., Leanne Nieforth, Clare Thomas-Pino, Lauren Samet, Sunday Agbonika, Francisca Cuevas-Pavincich, Nina Ekholm Fry, Kristine Hill, Brinda Jegatheesan, Miki Kakinuma, Maureen MacNamara, Sanna Mattila-Rautiainen, Andy Perry, Christine Y. Tardif-Williams, Elizabeth Ann Walsh, Melissa Winkle, Mariko Yamamoto, Rachel Yerbury, Vijay Rawat, Kathy Alm, Ashley Avci, Tanya Bailey, Hannah Baker, Pree Benton, Catherine Binney, Sara Boyle, Hagit Brandes, Alexa M. Carr, Wendy Coombe, Kendra Coulter, Audrey Darby, Lowri Davies, Esther Delisle, Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers, Angela Fournier, Marie Fox, Nancy Gee, Taryn M. Graham, Anne Hamilton-Bruce, Tia G. B. Hansen, Lynette Hart, Morag Heirs, Jade Hooper, Rachel Howe, Elizabeth Johnson, Melanie Jones, Christos Karagiannis, Emily Kieson, Sun-A Kim, Christine Kivlen, Beth Lanning, Helen Lewis, Deborah Linder, Dac Loc Mai, Chiara Mariti, Rebecca Mead, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Debbie Ngai, Samantha O’Keeffe, Grainne O’Connor, Christine Olsen, Elizabeth Ormerod, Emma R. Power, Peggy A. Pritchard, Kerri Rodriguez, Deborah Rook, Matthew B. Ruby, Leah Schofield, Tania Signal, Jill Steel, Wendy Stone, Melissa Symonds, Diane van Rooy, Tiamat Warda, Monica Wilson, Janette Young, and Pauleen Bennett. 2022. "Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs" Animals 12, no. 15: 1975. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151975