VVMA Information

Virginia Veterinary Medical Association

"Preserving and enhancing the quality
of human and animal life through
veterinary medicine"

Animal Assisted Activities / Therapy Programs

There is much information to support the value of Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy/Visitation Programs in the human healthcare field. Numerous studies have shown benefits that hospitalized patients and residents of rehabilitation or nursing facilities receive from appropriately monitored animal contact. Physiological and psychological effects have been quantified, and experience indicates the positive results from the many programs using animals to augment medical therapies. (Duncan, SL. APIC State-of-the Art Report: The implications of service animals in healthcare settings. Am J Infect Control 2000:28:170-80)

Administration for animal assisted programs must emphasize safety for the participants. There are several species that are well suited for such programs. Animal behavioral concerns are important to prevent injury to all people who take part in such programs. Behavioral screening of potential participating animals by knowledgeable individuals is essential for the successful program. Thorough knowledge of the zoonotic potential of animals used in programs is critical to protect patients and healthcare providers. Often a patient is immunocompromised by either illness or medication. Zero tolerance of zoonotic diseases is mandatory. Proper care and preparation of animals are important to minimize zoonotic risks.

We welcome anyone to contact us with questions or for further information.