The IACP supports and recognizes the therapeutic value of therapy dogs.
For the purpose of the IACP, a therapy dog team is defined as a handler and a dog that have been trained to provide interactions such as visiting patients in hospitals and nursing homes, working with incarcerated individuals, assisting those in reading programs. These animals are considered pets and are not provided public access under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A therapy dog team should facilitate human-animal interactions in such a way to provide a benefit the recipient of animal-assisted interactions.
Therapy dog teams should have permission from the facility or area in which they provide these interactions. A facility may be a college, a school, a hospital, a long-term care facility, an assisted living facility, a prison. There are therapy dog teams that also provide comfort in times of a crisis such as a natural disaster, act of violence resulting in mass loss and/or stress, etc. These "crisis response teams" should be specially trained for these types of interactions and should not interfere with the rescue, search, or other professionally trained teams working at the crisis environment. They should also be invited to the area to provide the animal-assisted interactions.
Therapy dog teams visiting in healthcare facilities should adhere to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Standards for animals in healthcare institutions printed March 2015 and the Association of Professionals in Infection Control guidelines for animal interactions in healthcare institutions (View Guidelines).
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