"Animal-facilitated therapy." The phrase has a nice, solid ring to it, doesn't it? And it also sounds like an idea that nearly everyone could agree to endorse, like democracy and vacations. But a closer scrutiny of some of the available literature on the use of animals as adjuncts in situations like nursing homes and outpatient psychotherapy reveals a number of deficiencies. While there is probably nothing wrong with the fundamental concept- ideally, people and animals are helping each other to become more useful and independentthere are some real problems in two areas: the dubious level of scientific rigor in many of the reports on animal-facilitated therapy, and the scant consideration given to the welfare of the animal therapists themselves.
Murphy, D.H. (1983). Some rights for animal therapists: Better science and better welfare. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4(1), 8-9.