The veterinarian’s role in supporting appropriate selection and use of service, assistance and therapy animals

Assistance, service, emotional support, and therapy animals provide valuable help, support, and comfort for people. The veterinarian’s role is to advocate for the health and welfare of the animal in these partnerships.

Therefore, the AVMA encourages veterinarians to be familiar with the legal status and protections accorded to these types of animals and their owners. This includes promoting accurate descriptions of these animals’ roles and addressing their specific health concerns.

Veterinarians may also act as a resource for clients in animal identification and training, such as recommending reputable providers and programs.

Determining whether a person would benefit from working with an assistance, service, emotional support, or therapy animal is made by a human healthcare provider and is outside the scope of veterinary medicine. However, veterinarians are encouraged to work collaboratively with other relevant human health and animal professionals in developing guidance and support for appropriate partnerships with these types of animals.

Related policy

Related resources

Service, emotional support and therapy animals

Assistance animals: Rights of access and the problem of fraud

Animal-assisted interventions: Definitions

Client brochure—Service, therapy, and emotional support animals: The veterinarian's role

Clinic poster: Do you have an assistance animal?

FAQ: Considering partnership with a service dog

Webinar—Assistance animals: Counsel clients, prevent fraud