SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI)

Companion Animals

SPCA supports the involvement of appropriate companion animals in therapy or social support programmes, provided they have a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met.

Animals can have a beneficial impact on the health and/or well-being of humans. SPCA advocates that Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programmes should put the animals’ physical, health, and behavioural needs ahead of the human’s desire to participate in AAI and that animals should always have the choice not to participate in the interaction.

SPCA is concerned about the lack of research on the welfare impacts of animals used in AAI and the increasing prevalence and lack of regulation of AAI programmes.

Where animals are used in AAI, SPCA recommends that their suitability is assessed on a case-by-case basis, with consideration to their species, age, temperament, life history, and the specifics of the intervention. Animals should be properly assessed for suitability for the programme, supervised at all times, and have the choice of participation in the event.

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