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

Service, assistance and therapy animals provide valuable help, support, and comfort for people. Once it has been determined that use of a service, assistance, or therapy animal is appropriate, veterinarians have a role in assisting their clients in selecting the right animal for the right task, recommending that the animal receives appropriate training for its intended role, and ensuring that the health and welfare of that animal is addressed.

The AVMA encourages veterinarians to be familiar with the legal status and protections accorded to service, assistance, and therapy animals and their owners, and should discourage inaccurate or misleading descriptions of these animals’ roles (e.g., "emotional support animals" status should be supported by a statement of need from a licensed mental health professional). Veterinarians should work collaboratively with their human health and other human service-provider colleagues in developing and supporting guidance for the appropriate use of animals for therapeutic purposes and to assist people with disabilities.

Related policy

Related resources

Service, emotional support and therapy animals

Assistance animals: Rights of access and the problem of fraud

Clinic poster: Do you have an assistance animal?

FAQ: Considering partnership with a service dog

Webinar—Assistance animals: Counsel clients, prevent fraud