Comments on the dilemma in the April issue: Enrolling in animal-assisted therapy programmes

01 May 2019

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In the dilemma discussed in the April issue of In Practice, Simon Coghlan described a scenario where a long-standing client wishes to enrol her dog in an animal-assisted therapy (AAT) programme for children with autism spectrum disorder. The AAT psychologist has requested a veterinary assessment before the dog (Imogen) takes part in the programme. Imogen is a very calm, well-trained 18-month-old Labrador. She has recently been diagnosed with unilateral elbow dysplasia. Her owner reports that Imogen dislikes having her nails trimmed. Given this, you wonder if you have an ethical responsibility to recommend against the dog entering AAT. However, your client is very upbeat, ‘Imogen loves children and will be a wonderful help to them,’ she enthuses. (IP, April 2019, vol 41, pp 134-135). What do you do?