Note: The AVMA endorses this Prague Declaration, developed by the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO).
There is much research now available to prove that companion animals can add to the quality of life of the humans to whom they may provide practical assistance or therapy.
IAHAIO members believe that those who train animals and deliver the service to others must ensure the quality of life of the animals involved. Programs offering animal-assisted activities or animal-assisted therapy for the benefit of others should be governed by basic standards, be regularly monitored, and be staffed by appropriately trained personnel.
IAHAIO members have therefore adopted four fundamental guidelines at their General Assembly held in Prague in September 1998. IAHAIO urges all persons and organizations involved in animal-assisted activities and/or animal-assisted therapy, and all bodies governing the presence of such programs in their facilities to consider and abide by the following points.
- Only domestic animals which have been trained using techniques of positive reinforcement, and which have been, and will continue to be, properly housed and cared for, are involved.
- Safeguards are in place to prevent adverse effects on the animals involved.
- The involvement of assistance and/or therapy animals is potentially beneficial in each case.
- Basic standards are in place to ensure safety, risk management, physical and emotional security, health, basic trust and freedom of choice, personal space, appropriate allocation of program resources, appropriate workload, clearly defined roles, confidentiality, communication systems and training provisions for all personnel involved.