Animal Health Foundation Blog

Big rabbit brings big smiles at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks

May 18th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation
Robyn Flans, Special to Ventura County Star
Published 11:55 a.m. PT March 7, 2018 | Updated 4:30 p.m. PT March 7, 2018

Diana Metzgus of Newbury Park kisses Henry, a Flemish Giant Rabbit at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center. The rabbit has joined the Pet Therapy Program and has stolen the hearts of patients and staff with his snuggly cuddles.

On a recent visit to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Henry had a long list of patients to visit.

It would take some time getting to them, though, because hospital visitors stopped Henry’s stroller every couple of steps to take photos.

  • That’s because Henry is 2½ feet long and weighs more than 20 pounds.

And he’s a rabbit.

A Flemish Giant rabbit, to be exact, and his owner, Candy Apple, has turned him into a therapy animal. She brings him to the hospital every couple of weeks, and he brings smiles to everyone who sees him.

“Oh, God, you’re beautiful!” she said to Henry as Apple placed him on her hospital bed.

Metzgus was a little girl when her father got her a bunny she named Puca. It turned out Puca was a Flemish Giant rabbit.

“It grew and grew and grew and grew,” she said.

Puca went swimming with her, and she pushed him in a stroller. So seeing Henry made her day, she said.

It was the same story with Robert Moss. The minute Henry entered his room, Moss lit up and exclaimed, “Oh, my God! You’re a big guy.”

Apple placed him in Moss’ bed.

“Awww, you’re like a big plush toy,” Moss told the animal. “You’re a sweet, cute guy.”

Then it was on to Arnole Levine, who once owned a pet store.

“I want one,” mouthed Levine, who was not able to speak. He was content to pet Henry while the rabbit lay quietly beside him.

She ended up with Henry when a friend’s daughter realized she didn’t have enough time to take care of him properly. Apple adopted him when he was 8 weeks old and took him to Home Goods, a local home furnishing store, two days a week to socialize him.

“He would sit with children, and parents would take pictures,” Apple recalled. “People would hold him and fuss over him so he was used to everybody. Flemish Giants don’t normally like to be held a lot.”

When Henry was about 8 months old, a woman who did pet therapy at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center approached Apple at Home Goods.

“She said, ‘Henry has to be a therapy rabbit,’” Apple said. “I had never thought about it. I went home and looked up Pet Partners, which is one of the most involved therapy organizations in the States.”

Both Apple and Henry took the necessary tests. Apple’s was a written examination and Henry’s was a hospital simulation.

“You go into a room and they do everything that could happen in a hospital,” Apple said. “They throw things and scream and bump into you and bring in dogs like therapy dogs.”

Henry passed with flying colors.

“Henry is very special,” Apple explained. “Flemish Giants are known for their docile personalities anyway, but Henry is like a dog. Henry follows me around. He scratches at the door to go outside. He goes potty in a litter box. He has the run of the entire house. He sleeps with the dog on the dog bed. The cats all lay around him.”

Henry has nearly 15,000 followers on his Instagram page, where many say he’s a unique animal.

But even after Henry was certified, it took a couple of tries at Los Robles. At first, the staff said the hospital only accepted therapy dogs because of disease control.

“Two months later, I got a call: ‘Henry’s in!’ They did all their homework and found out that Henry’s one of the cleanest animals,” Apple said.

It turns out Henry’s a superstar.

Lucille Porter-Chapman expressly requested visits, and Henry stopped by her hospital room about 12 times before the Newbury Park woman passed away Feb. 19.

“God’s love comes in animals and nature,” Porter-Chapman said during one of the visits. “He makes me feel so good.”

Apple can’t imagine her life without Henry.

“He is a miracle rabbit. He’s my therapy rabbit. He helps me a lot, too,” Apple said. “The cuddles I give him and he gives me … I was crying one day and he ran right up to me and sniffed my tears and cuddled me.”

Pet Disaster Preparedness from Red Rover

May 18th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF):

[English]  [Espanol]

Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:

Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

1. Microchip your pets
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.

2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.

3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!

Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:

4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.

5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets’ disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.

  • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
  • Copies of vaccination records
  • Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
  • Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:

6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.

7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets’ safety during an evacuation.

8. Comfort your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.

9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.

10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans. The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.


If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our “We’re Ready” campaign:

Post the “We’re Ready” sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready.

K9 Natural Voluntary Recall of Frozen Chicken Feast Raw Pet Food

April 14th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

The follow recall notice was provided by K9 Natural Pet Food.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13th April 2018
info@k9natural.com, 1 888 345 4680

K9 Natural Ltd voluntarily recalls K9 Natural Frozen Chicken Feast raw pet food 2 lb and 11 lb bags because of possible Listeria Monocytogenes.

K9 Natural Ltd is voluntarily recalling four batches of the K9 Natural Frozen Chicken Feast 2.2lb and 11lb bags that was imported into the US market in June 2017 because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in humans and animals. Symptoms of infection may include nausea, vomiting, aches, fever, and diarrhea, and may lead to most serious issues such as meningitis and abortion. Healthy people and animals can be infected, and some are more susceptible, including young children, pregnant women, frail or elderly people or others with weakened immune symptoms. Animals that become ill with Listeria monocytogenes could display symptoms similar to humans.

Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling the products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to the products.

No pet or human illnesses, injuries or complaints have been reported to date.

If you have any symptoms after handling the recalled product, please contact your healthcare provider. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has any symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The recalled batch numbers are as follows;

K9 Natural Frozen Chicken Feast 2.2lb bags, shipped to distributors in WA, CA, TX, CO and distributed to pet speciality retail stores.

  • Batch number #170517 with an expiration date of 17NOV2018

K9 Natural Frozen Chicken Feast 11lb bags, shipped to distributors in WA, CA, TX, CO, PA and distributed to pet speciality retail stores.

  • Batch number #150517 with an expiration date of 15NOV2018
  • Batch number #160517 with an expiration date of 16NOV2018
  • Batch number #170517 with an expiration date of 17NOV2018

The batch number and expiration dates are stamped in the bottom left on the back of the pack. You can see examples of packaging and where to find the batch number here;

Purchasers are encouraged to check the batch code to see if their product was affected. Pet owners who have product matching these batch codes should stop using the product and return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement. Consumers with questions can contact us at 1 888 345 4680.

At K9 Natural, the safety of our products, pets and customers is paramount and we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality food made of the highest quality ingredients. We are disappointed that this situation has occurred and K9 Natural remain committed to ensuring high levels of product quality and cleanliness right from the farm to the retail store.

Customers with questions may contact the company via phone at 1 888 345 4680, M-F 8am-5pm PST & EST and S-S 14 &15 April 2018 8am-5pm PST & EST or email info@k9natural.com.

At K9 Natural Ltd we take the safety of pets and their owners incredibly seriously and we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality food made of the highest quality ingredients.

The batch in question passed our testing protocol prior to being released for distribution. This protocol includes passing clear tests for Listeria monocytogenes as well as clear tests for other pathogens. We have retested our retention sample of this batch in New Zealand and it has also tested clear of Listeria monocytogenes.

Regardless, in the interest of the safety of our Pets and their families we have decided to voluntarily recall the affected batch, and also include all other batches produced on the same day between our standard sanitised cleaning protocols.

At K9 Natural the safety of our products, pets and customers is paramount, and we have several steps throughout our manufacturing process to ensure product quality and cleanliness right from the farm to the retail store. These include testing key raw materials for pathogens prior to purchase. Every batch of frozen raw product destined for the United States market has samples tested for Listeria monocytogenes, and each requires a ‘not-detect’ result before being cleared for export. Testing is conducted by an accredited independent laboratory, and we can confirm upon reviewing the test results for this batch again that it passed this pre-requisite for our business. The retention sample from the production batch in question has also returned a ‘not-detect’ for Listeria monocytogenes.

We are deeply disappointed that this situation has happened and once the immediate priority of recalling the product is underway, we will carry out a detailed investigation and put steps in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Radagast Pet Food, Inc. is recalling one lot of Free-Range Chicken and one lot of Free-Range Turkey Recipe

March 20th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation
Radagast Pet Food, Inc. of Portland, OR is recalling one lot of Free-Range Chicken and one lot of Free-Range Turkey Recipe because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
https://truthaboutpetfood.com/radagast-pet-food-inc-is-recalling-one-lot-of-free-range-chicken-and-one-lot-of-free-range-turkey-recipe/
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com

Lawsuit filed against Champion Pet Food – Acana and Orijen

March 20th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Consumers in Minnesota, California and Florida are suing Champion Pet Food for “False Advertising”, violations of “feed law”, and numerous other charges. The lawsuit includes results of heavy metal testing and includes results that this dry dog food contains BPA – a chemical typically not associated with dry/kibble pet foods.

This is a Class Action lawsuit – currently representing consumers in Minnesota, California and Florida. The consumers are suing Champion Pet Food “for their negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their pet food sold throughout the United States. Plaintiffs seek both injunctive and monetary relief on behalf of the proposed Classes (defined below), including requiring full disclosure of all such substances in its marketing, advertising, and labeling and restoring monies to the members of the proposed Classes.”

The lawsuit claims Champion pet foods (Acana and Orijen) “contain levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium” “known to pose health risks to humans and animals, including dogs” and interestingly for a kibble pet food…the lawsuit claims the dry pet food contained “BISPHENOL A (“BPA”)”.

The lawsuit provided this chart of lab result findings in Acana and Orijen pet foods:

With the heavy metal results provided, the levels found in the Champion Pet Food appear be be below that what authorities recognize as a ‘Maximum Tolerable Level of Minerals in Feed’.

As example: the National Research Council (NRC) publication Mineral Tolerances for Animals 2005 are the guidelines that FDA enforces. Within this publication (which is a pay for publication, not free public access) the NRC provides a chart listing the maximum tolerable level for multiple species. Dogs and cats are not listed within the NRC chart. The closest species provided in the NRC publication is rodents.

For rodents, the maximum tolerable level of arsenic is: 30 mg/kg.

The highest level of arsenic found in the Acana and Orijen dog foods was 3256.40 mcg/kg (microgram per kilogram). Converting micrograms to milligrams, the highest level or arsenic found in Acana and Orijen dog foods was 3.2564 mg. Well below the NRC maximum tolerable level for rodents and we can assume dogs and cats.

That said, much of the NRC consulted science their maximum tolerable levels are established on were based on short term research. There was/is little consideration to cats and dogs that consume pet food with higher levels of heavy metals over a lifetime. The NRC Mineral Tolerances 2005 publication found that dogs fed “2.3 and 4.6 mg per day per kilogram of body weight” for only 183 days experienced “decreased weight gain and food intake”; 183 days is not a fair consideration to base pet health on when exposure could be years.

Lawyers will have to argue out the heavy metal content health risks cited in the lawsuit.

But what about the BPA found in the Champion pet foods…kibble pet foods? Most pet food consumers understand that canned pet foods could contain BPA…but not dry/kibble pet foods.

The lawsuit states “Defendants market the Contaminated Dog Foods as “Biologically Appropriate,” using “Fresh Regional Ingredients” comprised of 100 percent meat, poultry, fish, and/or vegetables, both on the products’ packaging and on Defendants’ websites. Moreover, Defendants devote significant web and packaging space to the marketing of their DogStar® Kitchens, which they tell consumers “are the most advanced pet food kitchens on earth, with standards that rival the human food processing industry.”

Where did the BPA come from if ‘fresh regional ingredients’ are used and processed in ‘the most advanced pet food kitchens on earth’?

How much BPA was found in Champion Pet Foods as compared to canned pet food?

In 2002 a study – Determination of bisphenol A in canned pet foods – found BPA levels in dog foods tested from “11 to 206 ng/g”.

Nanogram per gram (ng/g) results stated in this study is the same as microgram to kilogram (ug/kg) stated in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit cites testing of Orijen and Acana BPA levels from zero to 102.70 ug/kg. Not quite as high as results of canned pet food, but significantly high for what a kibble pet food would be expected to contain.

It will be very interesting to follow this lawsuit, to learn of future updates/arguments from both sides. As more is learned, it will be shared.

To read the full lawsuit, Click Here.

To contact the law firm, Click Here.

 

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
Association for Truth in Pet Food

Microchip Guide Chart

March 15th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Raw Basics Recalls Tuckers Brand Pork-Bison 5lb. Box

March 12th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3-6-2018
Raw Basics, LLC.
10000 80th Ave
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
800-219-3650
Raw Basics, LLC. RECALLS Tucker’s 5lb Pork-Bison Box BECAUSE OF POSSIBLE SALMONELLA HEALTH RISK
Raw Basics, LLC. of Pleasant Prairie, WI is recalling 540lb of 5lb Pork-Bison Boxes because it has the potential
to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to
humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands
after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following
symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis,
muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having
contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets
can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has
these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
This recall is being issued after our firm was notified by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture of the
positive Salmonella finding. Product affected was isolated to 1 lot of 540 lbs (108 boxes) and distributed to
distributors in Minnesota, Georgia, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. These products were sold at pet specialty retail
stores. No illnesses have been reported to date.
Product is packaged in 5lb Frozen Boxes labeled Tucker’s Pork-Bison-Formula.
Raw Basics tests all batches of products for all pathogens in a hold and release program before releasing
for shipping.
Consumers who have purchased Tucker’s 5lb Pork-Bison Boxes are urged to return it to the place of purchase
for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-219-3650.

FDA Expands Nationwide Beefy Munchies Dog Treats Recall

February 21st, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

February 19, 2018 — The FDA has announced that Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. of Sun Valley, CA is recalling all sizes and package types of dog treats labeled as “Beefy Munchies” because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

About the Recall

“Beefy Munchies” was distributed nationwide through distributors selling to various retailers.

The product comes in individual bags, resealable bags and plastic tubs.

The plastic tub will be labeled “Beefy Bites”.

All sizes and packaging types will include a UPC code, lot number, and a best used by date of stamped on the back.

The current recall is expanded to include all “Beefy Munchies”.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

What Caused the Recall

The potential for contamination was noted after routine sampling and testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of Salmonella in two 4-oz packages of “Beefy Munchies”.

About Salmonella

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.

Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

What to Do?

Any consumers who have purchased “Beefy Munchies” should discontinue use of the product and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. at 877-699-7387, Monday through Friday 7 AM to 3:30 PM PT.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Smucker Withdraws Multiple Dog Food Brands

February 16th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

February 15, 2018 — J.M. Smucker Company has initiated a voluntary withdrawal of various wet dog food products due to the potential to contain low levels of pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug.

What Products Are Affected?

Affected products include canned wet dog food versions of the following brands:

  • Gravy Train
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits
  • Ol’ Roy
  • Skippy

The following table is reproduced from an email sent by Walmart to its affected customers.

Message from the Company

The following text is taken from an email received from Smucker by The Dog Advisor on February 15, 2018:

Out of an abundance of caution we initiated a voluntary withdrawal (not a recall) on specific shipments of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy canned/wet dog food because they do not meet our quality specifications.

This means retailers will remove the impacted shipments from their warehouses.

Veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital, like the levels reported to be in select shipments, do not pose a threat to pet safety.

However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards. We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused.

Although veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital do not pose a threat to pet safety, we understand pet owners may have concerns.

We encourage them to contact us at 800-828-9980 or via email here.

Please know our internal investigation into this situation is ongoing.

We take this very seriously and are extremely disappointed that pentobarbital was introduced to our supply chain.

We have narrowed the focus of our investigation to a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient, used at one manufacturing facility.

If you are interested in the FDA’s definition of a withdrawal and how it differs from a recall, you can find that information in the Definitions section of the FDA’s website.

What to Do?

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

Service, Emotional Support and Therapy Animals

February 14th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

  From the AVMA

Animals can play a very important role assisting people with disabilities and as part of therapeutic activities. Most people are aware of the role of service animals, such as guide dogs, but other types of assistance animals may be less familiar.

A more recently developed legal category of assistance animals is the emotional support animal (ESA). These are animals that provide companionship and emotional support for people diagnosed with a psychological disorder. They are documented by a letter from a human health professional, which legally guarantees that they may live with their handler and accompany them on aircraft, exempt from the fees that would be charged for a companion animal.

Some people misrepresent their animals as assistance animals in order to bring them to places where pets are not allowed, to avoid fees, or out of a misunderstanding of the animal’s role. It is important for veterinarians to assist their clients in correctly identifying their animals, and to provide care and advice consistent with the animal’s role.

The AVMA recognizes and supports the federal definition of service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act; the federal regulations for emotional support animals under  the Fair Housing Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and provides guidelines related to animal-assisted interventions. At its July 2017 meeting, the AVMA House of Delegates approved a new policy on the Veterinarian’s Role in Supporting Appropriate Selection and Use of Service, Assistance and Therapy Animals​​ proposed by the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions.

To learn more about assistance animals please refer to the newly released AVMA report: Assistance Animals: Rights of Access and the Problem of Fraud. While fraud can be a vexing issue, it is important for veterinarians to actively support the appropriate use of assistance animals and anti-fraud initiatives   so that undue burden is not placed on people using these animals in their intended roles.

If you are an AVMA member and would like to provide information or suggestions to the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions relating to assistance animals or animals used for therapeutic purposes, please email the committee at humananimalbond@avma.org.

The Legal Context For Assistance Animal Use – Definitions

Classification​ ​Definition ​As Defined By
​Assistance Animal ​“Any animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability,” as defined by the ADA.4 “Individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals. In order to qualify for such an accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. If these requirements are met, a housing facility, program or service must permit the assistance animal as an accommodation, unless it can demonstrate that allowing the assistance animal would impose an undue financial or administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing program or services.” ​U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (FHEO-2013-01)
​Service Animal ​“Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” Miniature horses have been added as a specific provision to the ADA. The miniature horse must be housebroken, under the handler’s control, can be accommodated for by the facility, and will not compromise safety regulations. ​Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (Section 35.136)
​Any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability; or any animal shown by documentation to be necessary for the emotional well-being of a passenger… Psychiatric service animals are recognized as service animals, but are considered to be emotional support animals and, therefore, subject to the applicable regulatory requirements, i.e. documentation. ​Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382
​Emotional Support Animal ​An emotional support animal (ESA) may be an animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA does not have to be trained to perform any particular task. ESAs do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they may be permitted as reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act. The Air Carrier Access Act provides specific allowances for ESAs traveling on airlines, though documentation may need to be provided. ​Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. Part 3604) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and C.F.R. Part 382.117
​Therapy Animal ​A therapy animal is a type of animal-assisted intervention in which there is a “goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is provided in a variety of settings, and may be group or individual in nature.” ​Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and CFR Part 382; AVMA Animal-Assisted Interventions: Definitions

 

​Find additional information, including reference citations, in Assistance Animals: Rights of Access and the Problem of Fraud(PDF).