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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs
Author(s): Howell, Tiffani J
Nieforth, Leanne
Thomas-Pino, Clare
Samet, Lauren
Agbonika, Sunday
Cuevas-Pavincich, Francisca
Fry, Nina Ekholm
Hill, Kristine
Jegatheesan, Brinda
Kakinuma, Miki
MacNamara, Maureen
Mattila-Rautiainen, Sanna
Perry, Andy
Tardif-Williams, Christine Y
Hooper, Jade
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Keywords: companion animal
assistance animal
service animal
facility animal
therapy animal
emotional support animal
educational support animal
visiting animal
human–animal interaction
Issue Date: Aug-2022
Date Deposited: 12-Aug-2022
Citation: 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 & Hooper J (2022) Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs. Animals, 12 (15), Art. No.: 1975.
Abstract: 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.
DOI Link: 10.3390/ani12151975
Rights: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Notes: Additional co-authors: 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, 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 andPauleen Bennett
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