Developing Ethical Frameworks in Animal-Assisted Social Service Delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand

Developing Ethical Frameworks in Animal-Assisted Social Service Delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand Abstract Whilst social services have traditionally operated from a humanist informed practice perspective, social service interventions are increasingly including non-human animals as a key part of rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities. While there is extensive literature documenting the human–animal bond and the benefit to social service clients of such animal-assisted interventions, there is an increasing call in the literature for the development of an ethical framework to guide such activities. At present, there are fragmented and ad-hoc ethical guidelines that consider the welfare of the service and assistance animals. This lack of an ethical code/s of conduct for practitioners working with non-human animals can lead to the possibility of harm occurring to service and assistance animals in social service activities. This paper reports on interviews with practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand who use non-human animals to assist them in their practice to contribute to a discussion to develop a more informed framework for ethical conduct with service and assistance animals that considers the realities of practitioners situations as well as the needs of non-human animals. Social services practice, animal-assisted activities, codes of ethics, ethical practice Introduction Social service delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) and the majority of Western countries is almost exclusively human-focused—such a focus positions humans as being distinct and separate from non-human animals. Ryan (2011) argues that this positioning of practice is underpinned by a humanist intellectual framework that constructs human welfare as paramount and creates a divide between humans and the non-human world. This logic positions animal welfare outside the moral realm of social service delivery. Yet, over the recent past, the human–animal bond has informed social service practice to include animal-assisted interventions such as rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities. These activities range from cat cafes and non-human animals visiting institutional care facilities to highly trained interventions such as assistance dogs for the blind, support animals for people with chronic illness and rehabilitation support for returned service people with post-traumatic syndrome, to name a few. But, while the recognition of the benefit to humans of such activities is relatively recent in this country, these attachments have been acknowledged throughout history (Matsuoka and Sorenson, 2014). The benefits to humans have covered a wide range of distinct activities that include mental health recovery and epileptic patients (Connor and Miller, 2000), the calming effect on children in therapy (Green, 2002) and a range of studies highlighting institutional visitation by non-human animals to improve clients’ physical and psychological welfare (Banks and Banks, 2000; Baun and Johnson, 2010; Matsuoka and Sorenson, 2014). The increasing rise in the utilisation of non-human animals in social service provision highlights the need for protection of such non-human animals to avoid possible harm occurring in the social service setting. Burrows et al. (2008: 60) note that the growing use of non-human animals in helping and assistance roles makes it ‘necessary to assess and understand the factors that influence the dog’s welfare’ to ensure that the impact of such work on non-human animals is acknowledged. Writers such as Evans and Gray (2012) and Taylor et al. (2016) have noted the lack of such protection and highlight the need to develop ethical guidelines and codes of practice to better protect non-human animals in social service settings. To understand how such therapeutic, assistance and rehabilitative activities impact on non-human animals and appreciate what is needed to address the potential harm, we interviewed practitioners in NZ who use non-human animals to assist them in their practice. We posit a framework to better understand the ethical issues at play in an attempt to develop codes of practice for social service agencies and practitioners that inform these animal-assisted activities. Organisations vary in their use of codes The current legislation that protects animals in NZ are the 1999 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the 2015 Animal Welfare Amendment Act (AWAA). Under the 1999 AWA, codes of welfare are established that set out minimum standards for animal care and management. These codes are separate from the AWA due to the impracticality of including them all in the legislation. Whilst minimum standards are foregrounded, the codes also include recommendations for best practice with non-human animals to encourage higher standards of animal welfare (Ministry of Primary Industries, 2016). At present, there are no codes of welfare that cover the use of non-human animals in rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities—however, the most pertinent codes for this purpose are the Cats—pets or companion, Dogs, and Horses and Donkeys codes, as these cover the majority of non-human animals utilised in this way. Internationally, the International Organisation of Human–Animal Interaction Organisations has developed a White Paper (IAHAIO, 2014), which defines animal-assisted interventions and provides guidelines for animal welfare for assistance animals. For organisations and individuals, especially grassroots initiatives, who are not connected to more experienced organisations or networked with international/national collaborators (and even these are not always aware of all developments that occur), accessing material that already exists is neither mandatory nor obvious. Some organisations, like the Blind Foundation, that have worked alongside non-human animals for a many years have detailed manuals and guidelines that include material on the health and care of the guide dog and set in place retirement plans and processes for older dogs. They are also one of the few organisations that have a process for international accreditation (NZ Blind Foundation is accredited by International Guide Dog Federation, see: http://www.igdf.org.uk/). Other sites of practice are covered by codes of ethics such as the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA, no date); however, this code of ethics focuses exclusively on the professional’s interaction with the client group rather than the protection of the horse. Another initiative in this area is the work by Ryan (2011), who developed what he names as an inclusive social work code of ethics that is based on the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) code of ethics. In this document, he substantially revises the AASW code to respect and consider all sentient non-human animals. Likewise, Serpell et al. (2006) have advanced and articulated ethical principles and implications for ethical decision making with therapy and assistance animals. Despite these documents and others, there are no overarching widely accepted codes of ethics that cover all services where non-human animals work alongside humans in assistance or service roles. In this country, for instance, non-human animals are not mentioned in the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers code of ethics (ANZASW, 2008) and internationally they are not included in the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) statement of ethical principles (IFSW, 2012) and only get a passing mention relating to environmental sustainability by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) (IASSW-AIETS, 2016). Such silence in relation to the ethical consideration of working alongside non-human animals, especially in relation to the impact of such work on the non-human animal, further reflects the humanistic underpinning of social work and social service provision in this country and in all other Anglo-American societies as reported by Taylor et al. (2016). Such an omission at both the organisational (delivery) and professional levels highlights the lack of guidance for workers in social services who work alongside non-human animals. While there is some sharing of best practice between some organisations and we imagine between workers in an ad-hoc manner, which is to be applauded, the lack of a universal, widely accepted codes of ethics marginalises such behaviour and possibly creates a harmful situation both for the assistance/therapy animals and human clients. Evans and Gray (2012) note that the lack of consideration of the effects on the non-human animals in their rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities does not necessarily indicate an intent to deliberately exploit or harm the non-human animals. In fact, the opposite may be true—that engaging in animal-assisted activities often stems from the practitioner’s love of, and respect for, the non-human animals and the acknowledgement that these human–animal relationships bring benefits to both humans and animals that they wish to share. Methods Given the lack of literature available in this area relevant to social work practice in NZ, we decided to conduct an exploratory study by interviewing experienced trainers and practitioners who work with non-human animals from a variety of social service, service and assistance sites in NZ to investigate their practice regarding such activities. A qualitative approach to the research was taken, as it fitted best with the research aims and objectives and was in line with the interpretative constructivist worldview of the emerging field context. It was also appropriate to use qualitative research as one of the goals was to hear the stories and perspectives of those who currently work with non-human animals, to understand the practice context and the meanings they attribute to what happens in the world, and how some stories become dominant (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994; Connolly and Harms, 2015). Ethical approval was gained from the University of Otago’s ethics committee (UoO15/101). The questioning revolved around the following themes: training undertaken by the respondents and their animal assistants; welfare and health protection of the animal assistants; ethical considerations and guidelines used; and the structure and timing of interventions with clients. These themes were informed by Serpell et al.’s (2006) ethical principles and implications for ethical decision making. Sample There are few organisations working with service animals in NZ. We contacted all well-established (national/international) organisations working with service animals and some independent organisations/individuals in our local region. Seven participants were interviewed who worked with dogs, cats and horses representing the breadth of these practices in NZ. Due to the limited number of practitioners and organisations undertaking animal-assisted interventions and activities, the sample size is small but the response rate was 100 per cent. The organisations for which they worked vary greatly in terms of their structure and the services they provided (see Table 1). Table 1 Sample description Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Table 1 Sample description Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Results Participants described a variety of settings and practices related to the type of service they provided and whether the organisation owned (we use the term ‘owned’ as it is currently used in the legalistic sense without any reference to an ethical stance, noting that a change in this legalistic sense is required to support a robust ethical shift) the animal or not. These descriptions covered training, health and welfare and the service provided, and included discussion around ethical considerations and guidelines. Training Training for human and non-human animals is performed in varying ways across the organisations interviewed, reflecting the range of services that were being provided: no training for de-stress sessions with university students either for staff or non-human animals; screening for safety and a briefing on appropriate behaviour for non-human animals and their owners taken to hospital, pre-school settings or retirement homes; temperament screening and general horse training for horses working in a variety of situations, handled either by volunteers with basic training or experienced horse handlers, depending on the specific service; assistance/service dogs underwent the most rigorous training, as did potential handlers and the people who trained those handlers. Non-human animal training was largely found in two main forms: training for the activities the non-human animals were to undertake in their service, such as the various tasks associated with that work, such as road crossing, retrieval, client warning, etc.; second, training of their responses to stimuli—for horses, this was often training to familiarise them with pieces of equipment to ensure that they did not ‘spook’ and create a risk to the client: I have to assess the suitability of those dogs, and I'm involved in training one of those dogs now. Training in the specific tasks that they need to be able to do to work for somebody that is living with epilepsy (Participant 4). Human training was also two-fold: for those who were providing the service and for those who were engaging in the service. The most robust training was evident for dogs. However, services employing both dogs and horses would largely rely on previous experience of employees and in some cases willingness rather than specific expertise to volunteer their time. This was a particular problem for smaller charitable organisations that ran largely on volunteer time and donations. The ability to put certain processes in place in individual branches was dependent on the resources (both people and financial) and experience that was available: Every year we have a training weekend, where the local [ORGANISATIONS] that can afford it, which is a big problem, but that can afford sending one or two representatives from their [BRANCH] up to the national training day or weekend do, and we meet up with people from head office (Participant 2). I went through the [SERVICE] dog training cadetship. That took a couple of years (Participant 4). The people that work for the [ORGANISATION], the people they contract as trainers, I guess the majority of them have been pet dog trainers. … I don’t think there’s any minimum requirement or whether there's any specific qualifications or experience or training that the trust requires the trainers to have (Participant 4). For clients, training helped to socialise them to the animal and teach them appropriate ways to approach and handle the animal(s). Welfare and health The overall responsibility for service animal health and welfare fell to the organisations, except in those instances where volunteers brought their own companion animals or other non-human animals to an organisation for interactions. In those instances where the animal was housed with a client permanently, there was a sharing of health and welfare-related costs, insofar as the animal’s handler (i.e. the client) would provide food and costs of normal care, but organisations would help with extraordinary vet bills if necessary. Part of the assessments these organisations undertook in deciding whether a person was suitable for a service animal was their ability to provide for that animal. For service dogs specifically, considerations were made for their retirement—organisations would consider when and where they might be retired to. The factors considered in these processes related both to the client (how will they manage) and the dog (what is best for the service animal): In either case, really, if we felt that the dog's quality of life would suffer significantly through remaining in that environment, we would often, in those circumstances, encourage either extended family perhaps, or friends or family of the person to, maybe, take a dog. Absolutely, without question, if the dog can remain in the same situation, and if there's a spouse or other family members or whatever that are there for the dog’s company. These dogs are used to being with somebody almost twenty-four seven, in those cases (Participant 4). Some other organisations had less formal processes in place to manage their non-human animals as they aged. In some cases, the non-human animals donated for service were already at an age at which they perhaps should have been retired. In certain organisations, the donation of horses upon retirement was their main source of horses. When discussing these matters with participants, the decision making about welfare and health was largely based on practitioner expertise—that is, while some organisations had created their own guidelines, others relied on individual employee/volunteer knowledge to determine what was the best, or right, thing to do. Welfare and health checks were not prescribed as such for any non-human animals other than formal service dogs. For these organisations, trainers would check in on handlers (the client) and their dogs at regular intervals (these varied from six to twelve months) throughout their partnership. Information sheets for good animal care or management existed for some organisations, but these largely related to hoof maintenance, feed and vaccinations, for example. Little discussion was evident regarding stimulus and rest (except with service dogs). Within the care setting itself, discussion of safety was largely human-focused (i.e. how to keep a human safe). It did include reference to non-human animals having space to avoid interactions they did not want to engage in and down time for service dogs where they can interact with other dogs in a normal dog fashion and have time away from service: They’re in this area in front of their stables there. It's a dirt area. The tape is quite deliberate, so that if the horse does really want to go it can. Sometimes, we work in the paddock. With the older horse when his feet were getting quite sore we'd work out in the paddock with him. Again, it would be a taped off area. Quite a large area so the horse can move and be itself, that's the whole focus for us (Participant 7). That's what I say to people, ‘They're [SERVICE] dogs, but they're still dogs’. They've got to live a certain amount of their life as a dog. That's going to a park, letting them free, throwing the stick, chasing the stick, going to the river (Participant 5). Health and welfare were considered by all organisations, but service dog organisations were the only organisations to have robust practices in place to ensure that the service animals were well looked after, safe and had down time. In other cases, this was either left to the non-human animals’ ‘owners’ or was based on the goodwill of individuals in the organisations. Service provided Participants described how interactions were designed and determined. For those training service dogs, it was important to match the dog with handlers (in terms of their rapport), considering the handler’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the dog, where its needs would be met: If we think the person looks like they could be a suitable candidate, we'll start trying to find a dog for them. Then, it's a case of trying to find a dog that will meet the person's needs, but also a person that will meet the dog's needs. It's a matching type process that goes on to try and get the right team together (Participant 4). For those people organising activities where non-human animals visited humans in institutions or humans came to visit non-human animals, the duration and nature of the visit were important. How this was assessed was mixed, based on the activity and the experience of those organising the interactions. Groups going into institutions largely relied on volunteers and screening dogs for appropriate behaviours. They limited the time with humans in the institutions to a perceived acceptable amount for the animal, mentioning that, while the dogs enjoyed the attention and excitement of the visits, the dogs could get overstimulated and tired (Participant 1). Those organising visits with non-human animals limited the time the non-human animals spent with humans to a set amount of time for the day with breaks and then limited the number of humans they would have to interact with based on the overall animal numbers: … each slot is 8 minutes long, and so a 10 minute slot that you book—so like 11: 00, 11: 10, 11: 20. As soon as the maximum amount of people in that slot—so usually it would be 6 to 8, maybe more depending on how many kittens or puppies we've got, or maybe less (Participant 6). Human experience of the animal–human interactions was a large factor in people’s decision making when designing activities/interventions or training non-human animals for services. This was sometimes informed by other models (national or international). Ongoing developments in animal behaviour research were only brought up by participants who dealt with dogs, but not by all of them. The benefits of the services and interactions provided were manifold and evident across the service types. These included: the freedom and friendship a service dog provided to someone who had previously felt constrained and isolated by their condition; children building relationships with horses required a kind of patience or responsiveness, as well as physical/therapeutic developments for those riding them; the emotional benefits of integrating with non-human animals even without structured activities—just having time with non-human animals. A clear benefit to the interactions with puppies and kittens for students on campus were the emotional benefit and to revisit thoughts of getting a flat pet—pets that are often left behind or are not looked after properly due to financial restraints (missing spaying/neutering, vet visits, microchipping, etc.): The benefit for students is hopefully that they don't feel like, … . People were commenting ‘Oh, we don't need to get a flat kitten’. I was like ‘Yes! Perfect!’ Not only that, they can come and play with animals. … They can come, like people come in and they're stressed … and then they come out and they feel really happy (Participant 6). Participants identified risks with the time humans spent with non-human animals in these situations: One of the few rules that we do have is that they don't wrap any lead rope around their hand because if the horse goes they might go with it. To keep your feet out of the way of the horse. They're really the only two things that we give them as far as safety goes (Participant 7). Few considerations were mentioned regarding risks to the non-human animals as described in the literature (Burrows et al., 2008) regarding overworking the non-human animal and aggression towards the non-human animal, etc. Ethical considerations and guidelines When questioning participants about what formal guidelines were in place and what ethical considerations their organisations addressed when employing non-human animals, many reported that they largely relied on good practitioners and past practices, but that they saw a need for more formalised processes and procedures. Some service dog organisations had extensive documentation, but no single organisation had animal-specific ethical guidelines (i.e. EAGALA guidelines are human-focused): At the moment, at the [ORGANISATION], I guess we rely on the fact that all of the people there share the same basic values and beliefs about the dog's welfare requirements, so we all make sure that happens anyway (Participant 4). Other organisations had extensive networks both nationally and in the Asia-Pacific region to share practice skills and knowledge so, whilst the written documentation regarding ethical guidelines was limited, the interaction between the various organisations encouraged a shared forum: We have close contact with the Australian states, even as I say I've just had the two management [sic] from the Australia [ORGANISATION]. I look at it, we're all, and I have very close relationships with all the New Zealand worker dog agencies. [LIST OF AGENCIES] because at the end of the day we're all doing the same job, just slightly different. I'm one that, ‘Hey let’s share our skills, knowledge and experience’. Because it benefits the community and the public of New Zealand (Participant 5). All participants had knowledge of the Codes of Welfare under the AWA 1999 that exist in NZ, but found that these related only vaguely to what they did in the community with clients: I have access to codes of welfare when they come out online, that sort of thing. I don't think it really relates directly to the work that we do with dogs in the community because it's very much a legislative thing for inspectors to deal with (Participant 1). Each individual organisation had some form of guideline document, but how many of these documents referred to non-human animal well-being was unclear. Service dog organisations’ participants reported more frequently considerations of animal welfare than other organisations where issues of animal ownership and welfare responsibility were less clear. Those participants whose organisations were connected to international bodies would refer to new information that might come through this body in terms of latest research in behaviour management, but that this, too, was largely disconnected from the work that they did (i.e. if they heard about it, it was from their own interest, rather than necessarily formal dissemination). Many participants were keen animal handlers and, as such, were following developments and organisations that produced useful material, but this was based on the individual. Discussion In these interviews with people working with non-human animals and humans, the assumption is that using non-human animals to assist humans in these various ways is good. Animal-rights proponents who believe in non-human animals’ bodily integrity and liberty and fight for the recognition of non-human animals as persons with rights would disagree with this (Regan, 1987; Kymlicka and Donaldson, 2011). As authors of this work, we are divided between an animal-rights perspective and an animal-welfarism perspective. Animal welfarism upholds humans’ rights as paramount and does not afford these to non-human animals, instead arguing for the best circumstances for non-human animals in the many situations humans might employ them. It is normally agreed in the animal-rights community that one cannot fight for animal rights and animal welfare at the same time—the latter undermining the former. We have taken the position somewhat pragmatically, given the current and increasing use of non-human animals in social service and health settings that a parallel argument needs to be made. The ongoing fight to recognise non-human animals as persons and afford them the rights that are related to this status must continue but, at the same time, we need to work for the welfare of non-human animals already in positions that require attention to minimise risk and cruelty to these non-human animals. It is also worth recognising that the animal-rights movement is still a small one, and one that fights hard for traction in NZ where meat eating and animal agriculture are part of the national identity (Potts and White, 2008). Given these circumstances, efforts to improve animal welfare have to be undertaken in the meantime. What does this mean for non-human animals in the service setting? Recognition of non-human animals’ moral status as more than property is required but, while the full push for personhood and citizenship as is argued by Kymlicka and Donaldson (2011) is not yet likely to gain much ground, recognition of their moral status as sentient beings with interests and the role of humans as guardians seems possible. This kind of argument and work is best reflected in a code of ethics rather than a code of welfare. Codes of welfare generally describe the minimum bar of what is required to meet the welfare of a particular animal. NZ is an exception where one of the purposes of these codes is ostensibly to recommend best practice with animals to encourage higher standards (Ministry of Primary Industries, 2016). Codes of ethics, in contrast, ask us to examine our behaviour and act according to values and principles that we as groups/professions believe in. This alignment with professions’ obligations makes these codes of ethics become mandatory and a mechanism for guiding behaviour and disciplining practitioners who fail in their obligations. A code of ethics adopted by social service and health professions and organisations would seem the ideal avenue for ensuring appropriate care for non-human animals included in activities, interventions and therapies in such settings. Such a code would give confidence to client groups that organisations providing non-human animal-assisted activities and services were treating the non-human animals in a cruelty-free and respectful manner. In an age of rising awareness of animal exploitation, the surety of appropriate care and consideration of non-human animals and the publicising of such adherence would give the organisations providing non-human animal-assisted activities advantages with both funders and potential users. This code of ethics for service and therapeutic animals would need to consider a number of things: it needs to be responsive to the variety of non-human animals and settings and activities the non-human animals may be employed in; it needs to fundamentally recognise the moral status of an animal above property of humans; it must use pertinent and recent animal behaviour research to inform practice; it must be enforceable. The Capabilities Approach (CA) is a framework for justice originally put forward by Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and later further developed by Martha Nussbaum (Sen, 1992; Nussbaum, 2009). It was our suggestion when beginning this work (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) that this approach could be further adapted to the non-human animal situation. The CA framework determines what is required for human beings to flourish (i.e. what capabilities do people require to achieve their desired functioning) and then argues that justice is done when these capabilities are provided/supported. The CA recognises the varying ways in which people may wish to flourish by achieving different functioning and therefore sets out to address the capabilities required to do so. This would appear an appropriate framework to apply to non-human animals where capabilities provided were responsive to the multitude of ways in which different non-human animals flourished. This means that well-being should be provided to the same degree for a dog and a frog, but what capabilities a frog and a dog need to achieve that well-being will be vastly different: a matter of kind rather than degree. Table 2 outlines the range of protections that could be included in a code of ethics to protect non-human animals in animal-assisted activities. We suggest that the three levels in this table require separate but accumulating and increasing protection for the non-human animals. Table 2 Ethical framework for therapy and service animals (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Table 2 Ethical framework for therapy and service animals (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues The primary level is the most basic. The secondary level is conceived in two parts: secondary-assistance or -service animal and secondary-therapy animal. This distinction recognises the difference between such interventions, especially the location of the animal—either with the client on an ongoing basis or with the professional organisation. In both situations, the non-human animal is trained to undertake activities; this training could be extensive and ongoing, as is the case for assistance and service animals, or less intensive in the case of the therapy animal. The tertiary level likewise builds on the lower codes of ethics to recognise the very high level of skills and particular temperament required. The employment of the non-human animals is key here: while not actually paid, they are considered as equally useful as their human colleagues. They enhance the work and skills of human colleagues and undertake tasks that are well beyond human capabilities. Codes of ethics at the tertiary level should reflect these capabilities and treat the non-human animals with similar respect and provide equal or similar rights given to their human colleagues, such as regular time out, annual leave and retirement provisions. To illustrate these differences between the application of the suggested ethical framework across tiers of service provision, Table 3 sets out two examples of service by non-human animals (in this case both dogs, each at the extreme ends of the service spectrum). Table 3 Ethical framework elements for service animal code of ethics (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Table 3 Ethical framework elements for service animal code of ethics (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. This suggested framework is flexible enough to allow developments in the animal behaviour literature while still prescribing principles of good ethical practice. Alongside such a framework, two further initiatives will be required: An effort to change language to recognise the non-human animal’s moral status to move non-human animals from their current status as property to the more inclusive colleague status. Rather than talking about ‘using’ non-human animals, there should be reference to ‘working with’ or ‘working alongside’ non-human animals. Similarly, terminology such as ‘guardian’ rather than ‘owner’ would be preferred. A means of disseminating and informing the animal service and therapy communities of updates in animal behaviour studies that will have an impact on how such non-human animals are worked with, while also monitoring organisational practices. This moves practice from a tradition-informed to an evidence-based way of working with and perceiving non-human animal colleagues. These kinds of initiatives require resourcing, guidance, impetus to implement and champions. Such political will seems to be emerging in this country, with the Green Party championing animal rights by appointing the first separate animal welfare spokesperson (traditionally animal welfare was seen to be part of the prerogative of the Minister of Primary Industries). The Labour Party has now also separated these ministerial responsibilities. The Green Party platform on animal welfare suggests the need for a Commissioner of Animal Welfare (Green Party, 2017) and that the current codes of welfare become enforceable rather than the current situation of being a guide to the courts in animal cruelty and neglect cases. A further nascent development suggested by Ms Mojo Mathers (the Green Party animal welfare spokesperson) (personal communication, 2016) is the possible drafting of a code of welfare covering the use of non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings. Would such protections have any impact on the service users of animal-assisted activities, interventions and therapies? Whilst this is clearly not the focus of this research, it is worth noting that our suggested framework of protections, if embedded in codes of ethics within a legislative framework or within industry and or professional codes of ethics, would reset the practice of utilising non-human animals in social service settings. This would not mean that such activities would not take place; in fact, the opposite may be true—by instigating a non-human animal ethical protection system and exploring current best practice, the efficacy of such interventions could be explored by researching, legitimising and publicising the field. Despite the growth in social service and health organisations of utilising non-human animals to support and enhance their practice, there are at best only fragmented and ad-hoc ethical guidelines that consider the welfare of the service and assistance animals. This situation is problematic and may lead to the possibility of harm occurring. Whilst we acknowledge the small sample size of this study and the need for further research to explore the issues covered in this paper, what we are observing in this material is a situation that needs attention. We therefore suggest that providers of such activities, and their national registration or professional bodies, work together to develop a cross-sectorial code of ethics and conduct, with the ultimate aim of including for non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings activities within their competencies. Relevant stakeholders may use our suggested framework to underpin such a code or may through consultation and deliberation create another framework. Such organisations at both the local and national levels should lobby for the extension of the codes of welfare under legislation to include minimum guidelines for the use of non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings and seek aspirational best practice to encourage higher standards of animal welfare. Further research needed This was an exploratory study with a small sample size. We would urge other researchers to investigate ethical considerations within social service practice further, given the growing use of non-human animal-assisted activities, interventions and therapies in the social services field in NZ and similar countries. This seems to be especially important as the lack of external monitoring of such non-human animal-assisted practice could lead to problematic behaviours by organisations and individuals who include such activities in their social work tool box. A further area of research could explore the psycho-social and assistance impact of such ethical protections on the service user of the non-human animal intervention and, as an extension, the impact on the organisations providing such services. Conclusion We interviewed people working for organisations that employed non-human animals in various forms of activities and services to provide therapy or support to humans. While we found that the respondents gave a lot of thought to the non-human animals’ well-being in their care, we found that there were no standards specifically protecting these non-human animals or rather that organisations chose those that they adhered to, whether these be the Animal Welfare Codes, international best practice codes relating to the specific type of animal concerned or organisation/service. Everyone we spoke to supported the idea of some form of code of ethics for service/assistance/therapy animals that covered elements of well-being, over and above basic welfare. What a code of ethics would look like that could cover the breadth of types of non-human animals and situations that they may be in was not clear, neither was how it would be managed or who would manage it. This work further supports the call for a code of ethics as articulated by Walker et al. (2015) and Evans and Gray (2012) and others, especially given the rapidly expanding field of animal-assisted therapy, services and activities. To this end, we have suggested a schema for understanding the activities undertaken by the non-human animals in health and social service settings, consideration for the non-human animals and underpinning protections that codes of ethics should consider at various levels of capability and use. This discussion should guide organisations and services that provide animal-assisted therapy, services and activities to develop codes of ethics or to join up with other providers to adopt pertinent codes for their practical situation using the three-level protection and guidance schema as outlined in this paper. We suggest that there needs to be political will to rethink the use of non-human animals in these settings and to provide legislative support and sanctions for protection and guidance. Acknowledgements We would like to thank our research participants for their time and attendees at our session at the Ethics in Practice Conference in 2015 for the encouragement and input. Funding This research was self-funded; no external funding sources were used. Conflict of interest statement. None declared. References ANZASW—Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers ( 2008 ) Code of Ethics—Second Revision, available online at: https://anzasw.nz/summary-of-the-code-of-ethics/ (accessed on April 19, 2016). Banks M. , Banks W. ( 2000 ) ‘ The effects of animal assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities ’, Journal of Gerontology , 57A ( 7 ), pp. M428 – 32 . Baun M. , Johnson R. ( 2010 ) ‘Human/animal interaction and successful aging’, in Fine A. (ed.), Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice , 3rd edn, Boston , Elsevier/Academic Press , pp. 283 – 99 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Burrows K. , Adams C. , Millman S. ( 2008 ) ‘ Factors affecting behaviour and welfare of service dogs for children with autism spectrum disorder ’, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science , 11 ( 1 ), pp. 42 – 62 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Connolly M. , Harms L. ( 2015 ) Social Work from Theory to Practice , 2nd edn , Port Melbourne, VIC , Cambridge University Press . Connor K. , Miller J. ( 2000 ) ‘ Animal assisted therapy: An in-depth look ’, Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing , 19 ( 3 ), pp. 20 – 6 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Denzin N. , Lincoln Y. ( 1994 ) Handbook of Qualitative Research , London/Thousand Oaks , Sage . Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association EAGALA (no date) Code of Ethics, available online at: http://www.eagala.org/sites/default/files/attachments/EAGALA%20Code%20of%20Ethics_1.pdf (accessed on October 4, 2016). Evans N. , Gray C. ( 2012 ) ‘ The practice and ethics of animal-assisted therapy with children and young people: Is it enough that we don’t eat our co-workers? ’, British Journal of Social Work , 42 ( 4 ), pp. 600 – 17 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Green ( 2002 ) ‘Freud’s dream companions’, available online at: https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2002/mar/23/weekend7.weekend3 (accessed on October 5, 2016). Green Party New Zealand ( 2017 ) ‘Animal welfare summary’, available online at: https://home.greens.org.nz/policysummary/animal-welfare-policy-summary (accessed on February 21, 2017). International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW-AIETS) ( 2016 ) IASSW Statement Theme 3: Promoting Environmental and Community Sustainability, available online at: https://www.iassw-aiets.org/2016/08/24/1464/ (accessed on October 5, 2016). International Federation of Social Worker ( 2012 ) Statement of Ethical Principles, available online at: http://ifsw.org/policies/statement-of-ethical-principles/ (accessed on October 5, 2016). International Organisation of Human–Animal Interaction Organisations ( 2014 ) White Paper, available online at: http://www.iahaio.org/new/fileuploads/4163IAHAIO%20WHITE%20PAPER-%20FINAL%20-%20NOV%2024–2014.pdf (accessed on October 4, 2016). Kymlicka W. , Donaldson S. ( 2011 ) Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights , Oxford, UK , Oxford University Press . Mathers M. ( 2016 ) (personal communication). Matsuoka A. , Sorenson J. ( 2014 ) ‘Social justice beyond human beings: Trans-species social justice’, in Ryan T. (ed.), Animals in Social Work—Why and How They Matter , Houndmills , Palgrave MacMillan . Ministry of Primary Industries ( 2016 ) ‘Codes of Welfare’, available online at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/animal-welfare/codes-of-welfare/ (accessed on April 19, 2016). Nussbaum M. C. ( 2009 ) Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership , Cambridge, MA , Harvard University Press . Potts A. , White M. ( 2008 ) ‘ New Zealand vegetarians: At odds with their nation ’, Society and Animals , 16 ( 4 ), pp. 336 – 53 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Regan T. ( 1987 ) ‘The case for animal rights’, in Fox, M. W., Mickley, L. (eds), Advances in Animal Welfare Science , Netherlands , Springer , pp. 179 – 189 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Ryan T. ( 2011 ) Animals and Social Work: A Moral Introduction , Basingstoke , Palgrave MacMillan . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Sen A. ( 1992 ) Inequality Reexamined , Cambridge, MA , Harvard University Press . Serpell J. , Coppinger R. , Fine H. ( 2006 ) ‘Welfare consideration and assistance animals’, in Fine A. (ed.), Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice , 2nd edn , San Diego, CA , Academic Press . Taylor N. , Fraser H. , Signal T. , Prentice K. ( 2016 ) ‘ Social work, animal assisted therapies and ethical considerations: A programme example from Central Queensland, Australia ’, British Journal of Social Work , 46 ( 1 ), pp. 135 – 52 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Walker P. , Tumilty E. ( 2015 ) ‘Developing codes of ethics for therapeutic interventions with animals’, Ethics in Practice Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand, available online at: http://www.communityresearch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/formidable/Developing_a_code_of_ethics_for_therapeu1.pdf (accessed on April 19, 2016). Walker P. , Aimers J. , Perry C. ( 2015 ) ‘ Animals and social work: An emerging field of practice for Aotearoa New Zealand ’, Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work , 27 ( 1/2 ), pp. 24 – 35 . © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The British Journal of Social Work Oxford University Press

Developing Ethical Frameworks in Animal-Assisted Social Service Delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
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0045-3102
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Abstract

Abstract Whilst social services have traditionally operated from a humanist informed practice perspective, social service interventions are increasingly including non-human animals as a key part of rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities. While there is extensive literature documenting the human–animal bond and the benefit to social service clients of such animal-assisted interventions, there is an increasing call in the literature for the development of an ethical framework to guide such activities. At present, there are fragmented and ad-hoc ethical guidelines that consider the welfare of the service and assistance animals. This lack of an ethical code/s of conduct for practitioners working with non-human animals can lead to the possibility of harm occurring to service and assistance animals in social service activities. This paper reports on interviews with practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand who use non-human animals to assist them in their practice to contribute to a discussion to develop a more informed framework for ethical conduct with service and assistance animals that considers the realities of practitioners situations as well as the needs of non-human animals. Social services practice, animal-assisted activities, codes of ethics, ethical practice Introduction Social service delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) and the majority of Western countries is almost exclusively human-focused—such a focus positions humans as being distinct and separate from non-human animals. Ryan (2011) argues that this positioning of practice is underpinned by a humanist intellectual framework that constructs human welfare as paramount and creates a divide between humans and the non-human world. This logic positions animal welfare outside the moral realm of social service delivery. Yet, over the recent past, the human–animal bond has informed social service practice to include animal-assisted interventions such as rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities. These activities range from cat cafes and non-human animals visiting institutional care facilities to highly trained interventions such as assistance dogs for the blind, support animals for people with chronic illness and rehabilitation support for returned service people with post-traumatic syndrome, to name a few. But, while the recognition of the benefit to humans of such activities is relatively recent in this country, these attachments have been acknowledged throughout history (Matsuoka and Sorenson, 2014). The benefits to humans have covered a wide range of distinct activities that include mental health recovery and epileptic patients (Connor and Miller, 2000), the calming effect on children in therapy (Green, 2002) and a range of studies highlighting institutional visitation by non-human animals to improve clients’ physical and psychological welfare (Banks and Banks, 2000; Baun and Johnson, 2010; Matsuoka and Sorenson, 2014). The increasing rise in the utilisation of non-human animals in social service provision highlights the need for protection of such non-human animals to avoid possible harm occurring in the social service setting. Burrows et al. (2008: 60) note that the growing use of non-human animals in helping and assistance roles makes it ‘necessary to assess and understand the factors that influence the dog’s welfare’ to ensure that the impact of such work on non-human animals is acknowledged. Writers such as Evans and Gray (2012) and Taylor et al. (2016) have noted the lack of such protection and highlight the need to develop ethical guidelines and codes of practice to better protect non-human animals in social service settings. To understand how such therapeutic, assistance and rehabilitative activities impact on non-human animals and appreciate what is needed to address the potential harm, we interviewed practitioners in NZ who use non-human animals to assist them in their practice. We posit a framework to better understand the ethical issues at play in an attempt to develop codes of practice for social service agencies and practitioners that inform these animal-assisted activities. Organisations vary in their use of codes The current legislation that protects animals in NZ are the 1999 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the 2015 Animal Welfare Amendment Act (AWAA). Under the 1999 AWA, codes of welfare are established that set out minimum standards for animal care and management. These codes are separate from the AWA due to the impracticality of including them all in the legislation. Whilst minimum standards are foregrounded, the codes also include recommendations for best practice with non-human animals to encourage higher standards of animal welfare (Ministry of Primary Industries, 2016). At present, there are no codes of welfare that cover the use of non-human animals in rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities—however, the most pertinent codes for this purpose are the Cats—pets or companion, Dogs, and Horses and Donkeys codes, as these cover the majority of non-human animals utilised in this way. Internationally, the International Organisation of Human–Animal Interaction Organisations has developed a White Paper (IAHAIO, 2014), which defines animal-assisted interventions and provides guidelines for animal welfare for assistance animals. For organisations and individuals, especially grassroots initiatives, who are not connected to more experienced organisations or networked with international/national collaborators (and even these are not always aware of all developments that occur), accessing material that already exists is neither mandatory nor obvious. Some organisations, like the Blind Foundation, that have worked alongside non-human animals for a many years have detailed manuals and guidelines that include material on the health and care of the guide dog and set in place retirement plans and processes for older dogs. They are also one of the few organisations that have a process for international accreditation (NZ Blind Foundation is accredited by International Guide Dog Federation, see: http://www.igdf.org.uk/). Other sites of practice are covered by codes of ethics such as the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA, no date); however, this code of ethics focuses exclusively on the professional’s interaction with the client group rather than the protection of the horse. Another initiative in this area is the work by Ryan (2011), who developed what he names as an inclusive social work code of ethics that is based on the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) code of ethics. In this document, he substantially revises the AASW code to respect and consider all sentient non-human animals. Likewise, Serpell et al. (2006) have advanced and articulated ethical principles and implications for ethical decision making with therapy and assistance animals. Despite these documents and others, there are no overarching widely accepted codes of ethics that cover all services where non-human animals work alongside humans in assistance or service roles. In this country, for instance, non-human animals are not mentioned in the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers code of ethics (ANZASW, 2008) and internationally they are not included in the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) statement of ethical principles (IFSW, 2012) and only get a passing mention relating to environmental sustainability by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) (IASSW-AIETS, 2016). Such silence in relation to the ethical consideration of working alongside non-human animals, especially in relation to the impact of such work on the non-human animal, further reflects the humanistic underpinning of social work and social service provision in this country and in all other Anglo-American societies as reported by Taylor et al. (2016). Such an omission at both the organisational (delivery) and professional levels highlights the lack of guidance for workers in social services who work alongside non-human animals. While there is some sharing of best practice between some organisations and we imagine between workers in an ad-hoc manner, which is to be applauded, the lack of a universal, widely accepted codes of ethics marginalises such behaviour and possibly creates a harmful situation both for the assistance/therapy animals and human clients. Evans and Gray (2012) note that the lack of consideration of the effects on the non-human animals in their rehabilitation, therapy and assistance activities does not necessarily indicate an intent to deliberately exploit or harm the non-human animals. In fact, the opposite may be true—that engaging in animal-assisted activities often stems from the practitioner’s love of, and respect for, the non-human animals and the acknowledgement that these human–animal relationships bring benefits to both humans and animals that they wish to share. Methods Given the lack of literature available in this area relevant to social work practice in NZ, we decided to conduct an exploratory study by interviewing experienced trainers and practitioners who work with non-human animals from a variety of social service, service and assistance sites in NZ to investigate their practice regarding such activities. A qualitative approach to the research was taken, as it fitted best with the research aims and objectives and was in line with the interpretative constructivist worldview of the emerging field context. It was also appropriate to use qualitative research as one of the goals was to hear the stories and perspectives of those who currently work with non-human animals, to understand the practice context and the meanings they attribute to what happens in the world, and how some stories become dominant (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994; Connolly and Harms, 2015). Ethical approval was gained from the University of Otago’s ethics committee (UoO15/101). The questioning revolved around the following themes: training undertaken by the respondents and their animal assistants; welfare and health protection of the animal assistants; ethical considerations and guidelines used; and the structure and timing of interventions with clients. These themes were informed by Serpell et al.’s (2006) ethical principles and implications for ethical decision making. Sample There are few organisations working with service animals in NZ. We contacted all well-established (national/international) organisations working with service animals and some independent organisations/individuals in our local region. Seven participants were interviewed who worked with dogs, cats and horses representing the breadth of these practices in NZ. Due to the limited number of practitioners and organisations undertaking animal-assisted interventions and activities, the sample size is small but the response rate was 100 per cent. The organisations for which they worked vary greatly in terms of their structure and the services they provided (see Table 1). Table 1 Sample description Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Table 1 Sample description Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Category/number Organisation type  Local 3  National 3  International 1 Animal  Mixed 2  Dog (only) 3  Horse (only) 2 Animal residence  With client 3  With organisation 4 Experience  <5 years 3  >5 years 4 Funding  Government 1  Charity 5  Private 1 Client costs  Fee for service 3  Animal upkeep 4 Results Participants described a variety of settings and practices related to the type of service they provided and whether the organisation owned (we use the term ‘owned’ as it is currently used in the legalistic sense without any reference to an ethical stance, noting that a change in this legalistic sense is required to support a robust ethical shift) the animal or not. These descriptions covered training, health and welfare and the service provided, and included discussion around ethical considerations and guidelines. Training Training for human and non-human animals is performed in varying ways across the organisations interviewed, reflecting the range of services that were being provided: no training for de-stress sessions with university students either for staff or non-human animals; screening for safety and a briefing on appropriate behaviour for non-human animals and their owners taken to hospital, pre-school settings or retirement homes; temperament screening and general horse training for horses working in a variety of situations, handled either by volunteers with basic training or experienced horse handlers, depending on the specific service; assistance/service dogs underwent the most rigorous training, as did potential handlers and the people who trained those handlers. Non-human animal training was largely found in two main forms: training for the activities the non-human animals were to undertake in their service, such as the various tasks associated with that work, such as road crossing, retrieval, client warning, etc.; second, training of their responses to stimuli—for horses, this was often training to familiarise them with pieces of equipment to ensure that they did not ‘spook’ and create a risk to the client: I have to assess the suitability of those dogs, and I'm involved in training one of those dogs now. Training in the specific tasks that they need to be able to do to work for somebody that is living with epilepsy (Participant 4). Human training was also two-fold: for those who were providing the service and for those who were engaging in the service. The most robust training was evident for dogs. However, services employing both dogs and horses would largely rely on previous experience of employees and in some cases willingness rather than specific expertise to volunteer their time. This was a particular problem for smaller charitable organisations that ran largely on volunteer time and donations. The ability to put certain processes in place in individual branches was dependent on the resources (both people and financial) and experience that was available: Every year we have a training weekend, where the local [ORGANISATIONS] that can afford it, which is a big problem, but that can afford sending one or two representatives from their [BRANCH] up to the national training day or weekend do, and we meet up with people from head office (Participant 2). I went through the [SERVICE] dog training cadetship. That took a couple of years (Participant 4). The people that work for the [ORGANISATION], the people they contract as trainers, I guess the majority of them have been pet dog trainers. … I don’t think there’s any minimum requirement or whether there's any specific qualifications or experience or training that the trust requires the trainers to have (Participant 4). For clients, training helped to socialise them to the animal and teach them appropriate ways to approach and handle the animal(s). Welfare and health The overall responsibility for service animal health and welfare fell to the organisations, except in those instances where volunteers brought their own companion animals or other non-human animals to an organisation for interactions. In those instances where the animal was housed with a client permanently, there was a sharing of health and welfare-related costs, insofar as the animal’s handler (i.e. the client) would provide food and costs of normal care, but organisations would help with extraordinary vet bills if necessary. Part of the assessments these organisations undertook in deciding whether a person was suitable for a service animal was their ability to provide for that animal. For service dogs specifically, considerations were made for their retirement—organisations would consider when and where they might be retired to. The factors considered in these processes related both to the client (how will they manage) and the dog (what is best for the service animal): In either case, really, if we felt that the dog's quality of life would suffer significantly through remaining in that environment, we would often, in those circumstances, encourage either extended family perhaps, or friends or family of the person to, maybe, take a dog. Absolutely, without question, if the dog can remain in the same situation, and if there's a spouse or other family members or whatever that are there for the dog’s company. These dogs are used to being with somebody almost twenty-four seven, in those cases (Participant 4). Some other organisations had less formal processes in place to manage their non-human animals as they aged. In some cases, the non-human animals donated for service were already at an age at which they perhaps should have been retired. In certain organisations, the donation of horses upon retirement was their main source of horses. When discussing these matters with participants, the decision making about welfare and health was largely based on practitioner expertise—that is, while some organisations had created their own guidelines, others relied on individual employee/volunteer knowledge to determine what was the best, or right, thing to do. Welfare and health checks were not prescribed as such for any non-human animals other than formal service dogs. For these organisations, trainers would check in on handlers (the client) and their dogs at regular intervals (these varied from six to twelve months) throughout their partnership. Information sheets for good animal care or management existed for some organisations, but these largely related to hoof maintenance, feed and vaccinations, for example. Little discussion was evident regarding stimulus and rest (except with service dogs). Within the care setting itself, discussion of safety was largely human-focused (i.e. how to keep a human safe). It did include reference to non-human animals having space to avoid interactions they did not want to engage in and down time for service dogs where they can interact with other dogs in a normal dog fashion and have time away from service: They’re in this area in front of their stables there. It's a dirt area. The tape is quite deliberate, so that if the horse does really want to go it can. Sometimes, we work in the paddock. With the older horse when his feet were getting quite sore we'd work out in the paddock with him. Again, it would be a taped off area. Quite a large area so the horse can move and be itself, that's the whole focus for us (Participant 7). That's what I say to people, ‘They're [SERVICE] dogs, but they're still dogs’. They've got to live a certain amount of their life as a dog. That's going to a park, letting them free, throwing the stick, chasing the stick, going to the river (Participant 5). Health and welfare were considered by all organisations, but service dog organisations were the only organisations to have robust practices in place to ensure that the service animals were well looked after, safe and had down time. In other cases, this was either left to the non-human animals’ ‘owners’ or was based on the goodwill of individuals in the organisations. Service provided Participants described how interactions were designed and determined. For those training service dogs, it was important to match the dog with handlers (in terms of their rapport), considering the handler’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the dog, where its needs would be met: If we think the person looks like they could be a suitable candidate, we'll start trying to find a dog for them. Then, it's a case of trying to find a dog that will meet the person's needs, but also a person that will meet the dog's needs. It's a matching type process that goes on to try and get the right team together (Participant 4). For those people organising activities where non-human animals visited humans in institutions or humans came to visit non-human animals, the duration and nature of the visit were important. How this was assessed was mixed, based on the activity and the experience of those organising the interactions. Groups going into institutions largely relied on volunteers and screening dogs for appropriate behaviours. They limited the time with humans in the institutions to a perceived acceptable amount for the animal, mentioning that, while the dogs enjoyed the attention and excitement of the visits, the dogs could get overstimulated and tired (Participant 1). Those organising visits with non-human animals limited the time the non-human animals spent with humans to a set amount of time for the day with breaks and then limited the number of humans they would have to interact with based on the overall animal numbers: … each slot is 8 minutes long, and so a 10 minute slot that you book—so like 11: 00, 11: 10, 11: 20. As soon as the maximum amount of people in that slot—so usually it would be 6 to 8, maybe more depending on how many kittens or puppies we've got, or maybe less (Participant 6). Human experience of the animal–human interactions was a large factor in people’s decision making when designing activities/interventions or training non-human animals for services. This was sometimes informed by other models (national or international). Ongoing developments in animal behaviour research were only brought up by participants who dealt with dogs, but not by all of them. The benefits of the services and interactions provided were manifold and evident across the service types. These included: the freedom and friendship a service dog provided to someone who had previously felt constrained and isolated by their condition; children building relationships with horses required a kind of patience or responsiveness, as well as physical/therapeutic developments for those riding them; the emotional benefits of integrating with non-human animals even without structured activities—just having time with non-human animals. A clear benefit to the interactions with puppies and kittens for students on campus were the emotional benefit and to revisit thoughts of getting a flat pet—pets that are often left behind or are not looked after properly due to financial restraints (missing spaying/neutering, vet visits, microchipping, etc.): The benefit for students is hopefully that they don't feel like, … . People were commenting ‘Oh, we don't need to get a flat kitten’. I was like ‘Yes! Perfect!’ Not only that, they can come and play with animals. … They can come, like people come in and they're stressed … and then they come out and they feel really happy (Participant 6). Participants identified risks with the time humans spent with non-human animals in these situations: One of the few rules that we do have is that they don't wrap any lead rope around their hand because if the horse goes they might go with it. To keep your feet out of the way of the horse. They're really the only two things that we give them as far as safety goes (Participant 7). Few considerations were mentioned regarding risks to the non-human animals as described in the literature (Burrows et al., 2008) regarding overworking the non-human animal and aggression towards the non-human animal, etc. Ethical considerations and guidelines When questioning participants about what formal guidelines were in place and what ethical considerations their organisations addressed when employing non-human animals, many reported that they largely relied on good practitioners and past practices, but that they saw a need for more formalised processes and procedures. Some service dog organisations had extensive documentation, but no single organisation had animal-specific ethical guidelines (i.e. EAGALA guidelines are human-focused): At the moment, at the [ORGANISATION], I guess we rely on the fact that all of the people there share the same basic values and beliefs about the dog's welfare requirements, so we all make sure that happens anyway (Participant 4). Other organisations had extensive networks both nationally and in the Asia-Pacific region to share practice skills and knowledge so, whilst the written documentation regarding ethical guidelines was limited, the interaction between the various organisations encouraged a shared forum: We have close contact with the Australian states, even as I say I've just had the two management [sic] from the Australia [ORGANISATION]. I look at it, we're all, and I have very close relationships with all the New Zealand worker dog agencies. [LIST OF AGENCIES] because at the end of the day we're all doing the same job, just slightly different. I'm one that, ‘Hey let’s share our skills, knowledge and experience’. Because it benefits the community and the public of New Zealand (Participant 5). All participants had knowledge of the Codes of Welfare under the AWA 1999 that exist in NZ, but found that these related only vaguely to what they did in the community with clients: I have access to codes of welfare when they come out online, that sort of thing. I don't think it really relates directly to the work that we do with dogs in the community because it's very much a legislative thing for inspectors to deal with (Participant 1). Each individual organisation had some form of guideline document, but how many of these documents referred to non-human animal well-being was unclear. Service dog organisations’ participants reported more frequently considerations of animal welfare than other organisations where issues of animal ownership and welfare responsibility were less clear. Those participants whose organisations were connected to international bodies would refer to new information that might come through this body in terms of latest research in behaviour management, but that this, too, was largely disconnected from the work that they did (i.e. if they heard about it, it was from their own interest, rather than necessarily formal dissemination). Many participants were keen animal handlers and, as such, were following developments and organisations that produced useful material, but this was based on the individual. Discussion In these interviews with people working with non-human animals and humans, the assumption is that using non-human animals to assist humans in these various ways is good. Animal-rights proponents who believe in non-human animals’ bodily integrity and liberty and fight for the recognition of non-human animals as persons with rights would disagree with this (Regan, 1987; Kymlicka and Donaldson, 2011). As authors of this work, we are divided between an animal-rights perspective and an animal-welfarism perspective. Animal welfarism upholds humans’ rights as paramount and does not afford these to non-human animals, instead arguing for the best circumstances for non-human animals in the many situations humans might employ them. It is normally agreed in the animal-rights community that one cannot fight for animal rights and animal welfare at the same time—the latter undermining the former. We have taken the position somewhat pragmatically, given the current and increasing use of non-human animals in social service and health settings that a parallel argument needs to be made. The ongoing fight to recognise non-human animals as persons and afford them the rights that are related to this status must continue but, at the same time, we need to work for the welfare of non-human animals already in positions that require attention to minimise risk and cruelty to these non-human animals. It is also worth recognising that the animal-rights movement is still a small one, and one that fights hard for traction in NZ where meat eating and animal agriculture are part of the national identity (Potts and White, 2008). Given these circumstances, efforts to improve animal welfare have to be undertaken in the meantime. What does this mean for non-human animals in the service setting? Recognition of non-human animals’ moral status as more than property is required but, while the full push for personhood and citizenship as is argued by Kymlicka and Donaldson (2011) is not yet likely to gain much ground, recognition of their moral status as sentient beings with interests and the role of humans as guardians seems possible. This kind of argument and work is best reflected in a code of ethics rather than a code of welfare. Codes of welfare generally describe the minimum bar of what is required to meet the welfare of a particular animal. NZ is an exception where one of the purposes of these codes is ostensibly to recommend best practice with animals to encourage higher standards (Ministry of Primary Industries, 2016). Codes of ethics, in contrast, ask us to examine our behaviour and act according to values and principles that we as groups/professions believe in. This alignment with professions’ obligations makes these codes of ethics become mandatory and a mechanism for guiding behaviour and disciplining practitioners who fail in their obligations. A code of ethics adopted by social service and health professions and organisations would seem the ideal avenue for ensuring appropriate care for non-human animals included in activities, interventions and therapies in such settings. Such a code would give confidence to client groups that organisations providing non-human animal-assisted activities and services were treating the non-human animals in a cruelty-free and respectful manner. In an age of rising awareness of animal exploitation, the surety of appropriate care and consideration of non-human animals and the publicising of such adherence would give the organisations providing non-human animal-assisted activities advantages with both funders and potential users. This code of ethics for service and therapeutic animals would need to consider a number of things: it needs to be responsive to the variety of non-human animals and settings and activities the non-human animals may be employed in; it needs to fundamentally recognise the moral status of an animal above property of humans; it must use pertinent and recent animal behaviour research to inform practice; it must be enforceable. The Capabilities Approach (CA) is a framework for justice originally put forward by Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and later further developed by Martha Nussbaum (Sen, 1992; Nussbaum, 2009). It was our suggestion when beginning this work (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) that this approach could be further adapted to the non-human animal situation. The CA framework determines what is required for human beings to flourish (i.e. what capabilities do people require to achieve their desired functioning) and then argues that justice is done when these capabilities are provided/supported. The CA recognises the varying ways in which people may wish to flourish by achieving different functioning and therefore sets out to address the capabilities required to do so. This would appear an appropriate framework to apply to non-human animals where capabilities provided were responsive to the multitude of ways in which different non-human animals flourished. This means that well-being should be provided to the same degree for a dog and a frog, but what capabilities a frog and a dog need to achieve that well-being will be vastly different: a matter of kind rather than degree. Table 2 outlines the range of protections that could be included in a code of ethics to protect non-human animals in animal-assisted activities. We suggest that the three levels in this table require separate but accumulating and increasing protection for the non-human animals. Table 2 Ethical framework for therapy and service animals (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Table 2 Ethical framework for therapy and service animals (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues Primary service This requires little to no training; the animal primarily performs a role that provides relaxation/comfort to others A code of ethics for non-human animals in this work recognises that addressing the capabilities in the framework set out essentially provides physiological needs, plus time for play/rest and a stable relationship outside of their service (where appropriate) and protection from harm Secondary service Non-human animals are trained and work with professionals to enhance their practice or to offer assistance independently of the professional to the client A code of ethics pitched at this level would build on the primary code to recognise the higher skills (created through the investment in training) and higher responsibilities Such a code needs to take into consideration that any misguided or intentionally abusive behaviours not only harm the non-human animal immediately, but limit its ability to work with others in the future—consideration of appropriateness of animal intervention for each family This code when incorporating the provision of capabilities set out in the framework would more explicitly dictate that, over and above the basic elements, trained service animals need loving/caring relationships, down time and interventions to reduce stress. In recognition of their labour, they should be provided with appropriate awards while in service and when reaching old age should be retired (to an appropriate loving and caring environment) from such activities to recognise their previous service and frailty Tertiary service Non-human animals are highly trained to do highly skilled work and are therefore acknowledged as fellow professionals A code appropriate to this level of service involves treating the animal with all the respect and rights given to fellow human colleagues. This code also includes non-human animals being seen as part of the professional’s family with rights regarding not being overworked, getting the same annual leave and retirement provisions and respect as their human colleagues The primary level is the most basic. The secondary level is conceived in two parts: secondary-assistance or -service animal and secondary-therapy animal. This distinction recognises the difference between such interventions, especially the location of the animal—either with the client on an ongoing basis or with the professional organisation. In both situations, the non-human animal is trained to undertake activities; this training could be extensive and ongoing, as is the case for assistance and service animals, or less intensive in the case of the therapy animal. The tertiary level likewise builds on the lower codes of ethics to recognise the very high level of skills and particular temperament required. The employment of the non-human animals is key here: while not actually paid, they are considered as equally useful as their human colleagues. They enhance the work and skills of human colleagues and undertake tasks that are well beyond human capabilities. Codes of ethics at the tertiary level should reflect these capabilities and treat the non-human animals with similar respect and provide equal or similar rights given to their human colleagues, such as regular time out, annual leave and retirement provisions. To illustrate these differences between the application of the suggested ethical framework across tiers of service provision, Table 3 sets out two examples of service by non-human animals (in this case both dogs, each at the extreme ends of the service spectrum). Table 3 Ethical framework elements for service animal code of ethics (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Table 3 Ethical framework elements for service animal code of ethics (Walker and Tumilty, 2015) Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. Ethical framework elements Rest-home visiting dog minimal/no training small risk Police dog high-level training high risk Provision of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, acknowledging non-human animal’s preferences Appropriate housing and diet Appropriate housing and diet Provision of security from cruelty, harm and pain In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through oversight, etc. In the service setting, need to protect dog from injury or harm, through appropriate training and health and safety Provision of freedom for natural behaviour and/or exercise and play (inter/intra-species) Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Down time provided outside of ‘service’ Recognition of guardianship versus ownership Recognition of dog’s feelings towards service on any given day Appropriate training for tasks required, respect for non-human animal’s ‘instincts’ and skills Establishment of authentic, stable and reciprocal relationships either within or adjunct to the service setting Need for relationship outside of the rest-home setting Relationship provided with ‘partner’/handler Reward/recognition for labour/skill Post visit rest/play, treats and affection as appropriate Recognition as colleague, provision of annual leave, down time, incorporation into partner’s family, etc. This suggested framework is flexible enough to allow developments in the animal behaviour literature while still prescribing principles of good ethical practice. Alongside such a framework, two further initiatives will be required: An effort to change language to recognise the non-human animal’s moral status to move non-human animals from their current status as property to the more inclusive colleague status. Rather than talking about ‘using’ non-human animals, there should be reference to ‘working with’ or ‘working alongside’ non-human animals. Similarly, terminology such as ‘guardian’ rather than ‘owner’ would be preferred. A means of disseminating and informing the animal service and therapy communities of updates in animal behaviour studies that will have an impact on how such non-human animals are worked with, while also monitoring organisational practices. This moves practice from a tradition-informed to an evidence-based way of working with and perceiving non-human animal colleagues. These kinds of initiatives require resourcing, guidance, impetus to implement and champions. Such political will seems to be emerging in this country, with the Green Party championing animal rights by appointing the first separate animal welfare spokesperson (traditionally animal welfare was seen to be part of the prerogative of the Minister of Primary Industries). The Labour Party has now also separated these ministerial responsibilities. The Green Party platform on animal welfare suggests the need for a Commissioner of Animal Welfare (Green Party, 2017) and that the current codes of welfare become enforceable rather than the current situation of being a guide to the courts in animal cruelty and neglect cases. A further nascent development suggested by Ms Mojo Mathers (the Green Party animal welfare spokesperson) (personal communication, 2016) is the possible drafting of a code of welfare covering the use of non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings. Would such protections have any impact on the service users of animal-assisted activities, interventions and therapies? Whilst this is clearly not the focus of this research, it is worth noting that our suggested framework of protections, if embedded in codes of ethics within a legislative framework or within industry and or professional codes of ethics, would reset the practice of utilising non-human animals in social service settings. This would not mean that such activities would not take place; in fact, the opposite may be true—by instigating a non-human animal ethical protection system and exploring current best practice, the efficacy of such interventions could be explored by researching, legitimising and publicising the field. Despite the growth in social service and health organisations of utilising non-human animals to support and enhance their practice, there are at best only fragmented and ad-hoc ethical guidelines that consider the welfare of the service and assistance animals. This situation is problematic and may lead to the possibility of harm occurring. Whilst we acknowledge the small sample size of this study and the need for further research to explore the issues covered in this paper, what we are observing in this material is a situation that needs attention. We therefore suggest that providers of such activities, and their national registration or professional bodies, work together to develop a cross-sectorial code of ethics and conduct, with the ultimate aim of including for non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings activities within their competencies. Relevant stakeholders may use our suggested framework to underpin such a code or may through consultation and deliberation create another framework. Such organisations at both the local and national levels should lobby for the extension of the codes of welfare under legislation to include minimum guidelines for the use of non-human animals in therapeutic and service settings and seek aspirational best practice to encourage higher standards of animal welfare. Further research needed This was an exploratory study with a small sample size. We would urge other researchers to investigate ethical considerations within social service practice further, given the growing use of non-human animal-assisted activities, interventions and therapies in the social services field in NZ and similar countries. This seems to be especially important as the lack of external monitoring of such non-human animal-assisted practice could lead to problematic behaviours by organisations and individuals who include such activities in their social work tool box. A further area of research could explore the psycho-social and assistance impact of such ethical protections on the service user of the non-human animal intervention and, as an extension, the impact on the organisations providing such services. Conclusion We interviewed people working for organisations that employed non-human animals in various forms of activities and services to provide therapy or support to humans. While we found that the respondents gave a lot of thought to the non-human animals’ well-being in their care, we found that there were no standards specifically protecting these non-human animals or rather that organisations chose those that they adhered to, whether these be the Animal Welfare Codes, international best practice codes relating to the specific type of animal concerned or organisation/service. Everyone we spoke to supported the idea of some form of code of ethics for service/assistance/therapy animals that covered elements of well-being, over and above basic welfare. What a code of ethics would look like that could cover the breadth of types of non-human animals and situations that they may be in was not clear, neither was how it would be managed or who would manage it. This work further supports the call for a code of ethics as articulated by Walker et al. (2015) and Evans and Gray (2012) and others, especially given the rapidly expanding field of animal-assisted therapy, services and activities. To this end, we have suggested a schema for understanding the activities undertaken by the non-human animals in health and social service settings, consideration for the non-human animals and underpinning protections that codes of ethics should consider at various levels of capability and use. This discussion should guide organisations and services that provide animal-assisted therapy, services and activities to develop codes of ethics or to join up with other providers to adopt pertinent codes for their practical situation using the three-level protection and guidance schema as outlined in this paper. We suggest that there needs to be political will to rethink the use of non-human animals in these settings and to provide legislative support and sanctions for protection and guidance. Acknowledgements We would like to thank our research participants for their time and attendees at our session at the Ethics in Practice Conference in 2015 for the encouragement and input. Funding This research was self-funded; no external funding sources were used. Conflict of interest statement. None declared. References ANZASW—Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers ( 2008 ) Code of Ethics—Second Revision, available online at: https://anzasw.nz/summary-of-the-code-of-ethics/ (accessed on April 19, 2016). Banks M. , Banks W. ( 2000 ) ‘ The effects of animal assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities ’, Journal of Gerontology , 57A ( 7 ), pp. M428 – 32 . Baun M. , Johnson R. ( 2010 ) ‘Human/animal interaction and successful aging’, in Fine A. (ed.), Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice , 3rd edn, Boston , Elsevier/Academic Press , pp. 283 – 99 . 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This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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The British Journal of Social WorkOxford University Press

Published: Apr 23, 2018

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