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 their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met.

Animals have a beneficial impact on the health and/or well-being of humans. SPCA advocates that AAI programmes should put the animals’ physical, health, and behavioural needs ahead of the human’s desire to participate in AAI.

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, based on 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.

SPCA opposes the use of wild animals in human therapy or social support programmes.

SPCA is concerned that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of wild animals cannot be fulfilled in AAI programmes due to the animals forced proximity to human recipients. “Wild animals” in this context refers non-domesticated species.

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