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Summary Article: Assistance animal
from The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare

An assistance animal is one that is used to facilitate an activity by a human who is otherwise impaired in this action. Many assistance animals are trained to complete tasks in relation to a human disability. Such animals are provided to increase the safety, mobility and/or independence of their human companions. Examples of tasks include guidance when walking (guide dogs for the blind), warning of imminent seizures (seizure-alert dogs), informing the human of important sounds (hearing dogs for the deaf) and assistance with other, more general tasks related to mobility (service or assistance animals, typically dogs or monkeys). There is growing interest in the use of companion animals in the management of mental health problems, including autism and learning difficulty, where they may act as a catalyst for improved communication.

see also: Animal-assisted therapy

Further reading
  • Lane, D.R., McNicholas, J. and Collis, G.M. (1998) Dogs for the disabled: benefits to recipients and the welfare of the dog. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 59, 49-60.
  • Siegel, M.E. and Koplin, H.M. (1984) More than a Friend: Dogs with a Purpose. Walker & Co., New York.
  • Taylor, Katy D.
    © CAB International 2010

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