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Am J Infect Control. 2017 Aug 1;45(8):883-887. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2017.04.287. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Animal-assisted interventions: A national survey of health and safety policies in hospitals, eldercare facilities, and therapy animal organizations.

Author information

1
Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction and Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA. Electronic address: Deborah.Linder@tufts.edu.
2
Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction and Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA.
3
Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction and Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA; Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, Medford, MA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programs are increasing in popularity, but it is unknown to what extent therapy animal organizations that provide AAI and the hospitals and eldercare facilities they work with implement effective animal health and safety policies to ensure safety of both animals and humans. Our study objective was to survey hospitals, eldercare facilities, and therapy animal organizations on their AAI policies and procedures.

METHODS:

A survey of United States hospitals, eldercare facilities, and therapy animal organizations was administered to assess existing health and safety policies related to AAI programs.

RESULTS:

Forty-five eldercare facilities, 45 hospitals, and 27 therapy animal organizations were surveyed. Health and safety policies varied widely and potentially compromised human and animal safety. For example, 70% of therapy animal organizations potentially put patients at risk by allowing therapy animals eating raw meat diets to visit facilities. In general, hospitals had stricter requirements than eldercare facilities.

DISCUSSION:

This information suggests that there are gaps between the policies of facilities and therapy animal organizations compared with recent guidelines for animal visitation in hospitals.

CONCLUSIONS:

Facilities with AAI programs need to review their policies to address recent AAI guidelines to ensure the safety of animals and humans involved.

KEYWORDS:

Animal-assisted therapy; Human-animal interaction; Infectious disease; Pet therapy; Public health; Zoonotic disease

PMID:
28673680
PMCID:
PMC5542869
DOI:
10.1016/j.ajic.2017.04.287
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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