Alternatives to Traditional Animal Assisted Interventions: Expanding our toolkit
by Human-Animal Interaction Section and Animal Assisted Intervention International
This e-book, authored by Human-Animal Interaction Section and Animal Assisted Intervention International is designed to be used by individuals or groups incorporating animal assisted interventions. Advanced AAI professionals contributed activities and interactions that they used during the national pandemic as a means to continue their volunteering or professional practice when face-to-face contact was not an option. This resource began as a way to share ideas about how to navigate through the pandemic, though as information was being collected, the idea that having virtual, touch free activities have much greater implications. For example, mental health providers can include animals in therapy sessions remotely to individuals in rural areas or for clients who do not have necessary transportation. Or a volunteer handler may be working with a healthcare provider to assist with an immunocompromised patient and the physical interaction is not possible, these activities could be modified for alternative visits. These activities can also be modified to fit basic, intermediate, or advanced level competencies for this work. As with any new modality, continuing education and training is necessary; this book provides an additional resource to assist in developing a competent and ethical practice. Healthcare and human service providers of AAIs must achieve competency, consider ethics from our codes of conduct, and truly understand animal behavior at a species, breed, and individual level as well as humane training methods. These entries indirectly involve animals, but can still provide opportunities to incorporate many recreational, therapeutic, training, or educational goals or visitation options to remain connected to your AAI community. This e-book is the result of working with more than 50 advanced handlers and professionals in the field who shared their knowledge and experiences. We are excited to share their passion and excellent works with new and veteran handlers and providers who want alternative and novel ways to provide AAIs. Each entry has possible outcomes, materials needed, time required, and animal preparation recommendations to identify which entries are most suitable for you. These entries, however, are able to be modified to fit alternative needs. The most important factor is considering the animal’s perspective in every interaction. Every activity identifies required preparation of the animal using humane training methods. A good handler takes preventative measures to keep the animal comfortable and engaged within his/her own skill and preparation level. Again, having knowledge of your animal’s behavior at a species, breed, and individual level is crucial to maintaining his/her safety and welfare. The experience should be positive for the animal to avoid exploitation of the animal and sending a negative message to the human participant.