"Living in the present is a gift." CF4AASS

Human Services Assistance Animal {HSAA}

HSAAs Defined

An HSAA is a domesticated, healthy, suitable, appropriately socialized, often trained, and evaluated animal and positively motivated partner in the delivery of Animal-Assisted Human Services {AAHS}.

Therapy Versus Therapeutic

Therapy within Animal-Assisted Human Services {AAHS} involves a treatment plan establishing goals and projected outcomes. Therapeutic, in contrast, refers to pleasant activities that result in feeling good, calm, and the like. Animal Assisted Services Professionals {AASPs} provide therapy and HSAAs aid in nurturing various therapeutic benefits.  

Examples of domesticated mammals that may be involved in {AAHS}: alpacas, cats, dogs, donkeys, ferrets, goats, guinea pigs, horses, llamas, pigs, rats, rabbits and sheep. Read more (https://www.cf4aass.ca/resource-one-2) 

Difference Between Working Terms and the Term HSAA

How service providers refer to the animals {working terms}, they employ (partner with) in their AAHS businesses may often differ, or in some cases, specific terms may be used interchangeably regardless of the type of services offered.  This poses several concerns and challenges within the industry sector and other stakeholders trying to navigate Canada's AAHS evolving marketplace.

Canada's National Standard uses the term 'Human Services Assistance Animal' {HSAA} because it includes all animals involved in Human Services regardless of species or how they are employed. The published National Standards of Canada {NSC} is not prescriptive in that it does not tell businesses what to call their HSAAs because 'how' an Animal-Assisted Human Service Provider {AAHSP} and Animal-Assisted Services Professional {AASP} refer to the animals they partner with because working terms are used for branding and marketing a businesses Human Services. Working Terms will continue to evolve; however, the term HSAA provides a consistent means to identify animals involved in Canada's AAHS Industry Sector.  

Working Terms, Definitions, and Examples

A recent study called 'Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs' was published on August 4, 2022. The authors created 'working definitions' for the following nine terms: “assistance animal,” “companion animal,” “educational/school support animal,” “emotional support animal,” “facility animal,” “service animal," “skilled companion animal," “therapy animal,” and “visiting/visitation animal.” These terms will continue to evolve. Other working terms may also be used, such as therapy dog and skilled companion animal, and the list goes on.

This study explains that: "Although animals are being employed for a growing number of roles to support people, the terms used to describe those animals (e.g., “therapy animal” and “emotional support animal”) can be confusing. The same term may be used to describe different types of work, or the same role can be described with different terms. This paper presents the results of a collaboration between over 100 researchers, practitioners, and end users of animal-based supports from all over the world."

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) refers to a companion animal (pet) that may provide comfort and emotional support to its owners but is not explicitly task-trained for a disability or evaluated for community engagement. Consequently, ESAs are not HSAAs

The Safety and Welfare of Human Services Assistance Animals {HSAAs}

An excerpt from Canada's first published voluntary National Standard of Canada (NSC) CAN/HRSO – 500.01 - 2022 Development of a Management System for Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS 

The AAHSP and professionals shall have written procedures to safeguard the safety and welfare of HSAAs {Section 4.1 of the National Standard of Canada {NSC} outlines relevant requirements (best practices}. 

Written procedures shall (the word shall in this NSC indicates that the requirement is mandatory):        outline the selection process and criteria that determine the HSAA’s capability and suitability for its specified role in the delivery of AAHS (such as temperament, motivation, mood, age, conformation, health, species/breed, and behavioural cues).

Slide show examples of how HSAAs connect with humans. 

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide        outline the process that ensures a gradual and progressive exposure of the HSAA to initial and ongoing specific training that utilizes positive reinforcement training techniques.        outline the process for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the HSAA’s suitability (see section for service delivery (e.g., certification, where applicable).        outline the plan, including those responsible, for ensuring that all necessary resources are available to fulfill the safety and welfare needs of the HSAA (such as veterinary care and nutrition).        describe the various setting-specific roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of individuals working with the HSAA (such as schools, retirement facilities, hospitals, and therapy farms).        outline the process for determining the length of time the HSAA is actively working during service delivery (such as hours per day and days per month), including the frequency and length of recovery time.        outline the continuous process for determining when the HSAA is at the end of its work lifecycle (e.g., retirement phase) and its aftercare.        outline the process for the management of events that would affect the HSAA’s permanent or temporary withdrawal from service delivery (such as unforeseen medical conditions, unforeseen environmental events, pregnancy, injury, and death), including a reintroduction plan.        outline the process for protecting the HSAA from physical and/or psychological harm with respect to the work setting (such as schools, retirement facilities, hospitals, therapy facilities, and others).     outline the process for protecting the HSAA from physical and/or psychological harms with respect to the environment that the HSAA is exposed to (such as weather, pollutants, poisons, predators, and infectious agents).     outline the process for assisting the HSAA in recovering from any physical and/or psychological harm that it may experience.     describe how the animal’s basic needs will be met with respect to access to water, food, relief areas, rest, hygiene, exercise, shelter, space accommodation, play, natural behaviour, and social bonding, both during working and non-working hours.