Author Archives: SCAS

One Health Social Sciences Online Webinar

The One Health Social Sciences Initiative is taking the next step to further its mission to strengthen the global network of scientists and practitioners incorporating social science concepts and methods into their One Health research and practice.

10:00 am ET (UTC-5)

To register for the free event, go to:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1680910688887405836 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

New SCAS Code of Practice Launched

Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) guidelines developed to provide voluntary code to ensure animal and human welfare needs are met

Guidelines for the use of animals in a wide range of animal-assisted activities and therapies, developed by the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), have been substantially revised and updated.

The Animal Assisted Interventions: SCAS Code of Practice for the UK (the code) is a voluntary code intended to offer guidance on good practice for designing and delivering AAI effectively and safely, to help ensure the welfare needs of both humans and animals are met.

Why do we need a Code?

Animals are increasingly being deployed in therapeutic settings due to the acknowledged benefits that arise from human-animal interactions1. There are no National Occupational Standards in place for AAI in the UK; therefore, SCAS recognised a need to provide evidence-based advice and as such developed the Code, with input from the charity’s expert membership.

The introduction of AAI programmes requires careful planning to ensure interventions are safe for all involved and that animal welfare is not compromised. The SCAS Code informs professionals, patients and the public about key steps required to achieve best practices. It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration across the caring professions in the planning, development and maintenance of programmes; and between practitioners and researchers in documenting outcomes. Through such collaboration, programmes become more effective and sustainable.

SCAS Chairman, Dr Ormerod, explains the background to the development of the guidelines:

“The experience of SCAS members, through surveys and visits to health and social care facilities, is that many programmes involve animals in an ad hoc fashion.

Animals are often introduced without seeking advice as to their suitability or welfare. Few facilities have adequate written policy or protocol, hence the need for a well-researched document to inform those working or volunteering in such facilities.”

“It is necessary to mitigate risk when using animals in AAI, both in terms of upholding animal welfare and to protect humans from any potential zoonotic diseases. The AAI SCAS Code of Conduct will help ensure all parties are working safely and fulfilling the needs of the institution and animal owners.”

The guidelines are free to access and may be downloaded from the SCAS website http://www.scas.org.uk/animal-assisted-interventions/code-of-practice/

The Code was first launched by SCAS in 2013 and has been substantially revised to reflect current understanding of AAI, particularly in relation to safe practice and animal welfare. Advice on zoonoses has been expanded to address issues pertaining to farm animals, exotic species and risks associated with raw meat products.

Who is the Code for?

The Code is for organisations, charities, businesses or individuals who design, manage, organise and implement the delivery of AAI programmes. They are also a key resource for veterinary teams whose work alongside these teams. Their services may be commissioned by others or, in some cases, those responsible for the management of an AAI programme may also be the AAI facilitator who delivers the session. The Code also serves to inform staff and clients in health, social care and educational institutions to which AAI is delivered.

PhD student to study human-animal interaction required at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Jeffrey Stevens, director of the Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is recruiting a PhD student to study human-animal interaction. Projects investigate the effects of interacting with dogs on human cognition and emotion. Previous experience with HAI is preferred. For more information, contact Dr. Stevens at jstevens5@unl.edu. The deadline for applications is 15 December 2019.

2019 SCAS Conference: Still time to book!

There is still some time left to book onto the Society for Companion Animal Studies’ 2019 conference, ‘Companion Animals and Us: One Welfare’ on Saturday 21 September 2019 at The College of Animal Welfare in Cambridgeshire. If you are passionate about the relationship between humans and animals, this conference is for you!

This year’s event explores the concept of ‘One Welfare’; the idea that animal welfare, human wellbeing and the environment are all intrinsically linked, and that interactions between them should be to the benefit of all. Talks on thought provoking, and sometimes controversial, topics will provide a platform for an afternoon of workshop discussions; giving an opportunity for sharing ideas and networking with fellow delegates.

The keeping of companion animals, whether as pets or assistance animals, can provide benefits to people, the community and the animal; certainly many pets enjoy interesting and enjoyable lives and the benefits are reciprocal. However, where the human’s needs and/or perspectives are the main focus, there is potential for decreased welfare of the individual animal; this is just one of the topics that will be addressed by our speakers throughout the day.

This year also marks the 40th Birthday of SCAS and, throughout the conference, we will be celebrating all that SCAS has achieved during this time; indeed SCAS Chairperson, Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, will begin the conference by talking through the history of SCAS. This will set the scene for a great line up of speakers: Dr Anne McBride, Clifford Warwick, Vicki Betton and Debbie Rook; who will be looking at domestic pets, exotic species, and the situation, both in the UK and overseas, in regards to pets and housing.

Prices start at just £45 for students and SCAS members. Book a place online.

Download a Full Agenda

SCAS Funded Project: Virtual Reality Swimming with Dolphins

SCAS Chairman, Dr Elizabeth Ormerod writes: One of the workshops at the 2018 IAHAIO conference in Amsterdam was delivered by the Dolphin Swim Club, an innovative cutting-edge programme which employs virtual reality (VR) technology. By wearing waterproof VR goggles showing underwater video footage of dolphins, people perceive that they are underwater swimming with them. This very powerful and moving experience was enjoyed by the delegates – there was a swimming pool within the conference centre! Continue reading

Warning on Autism Service/Support Dogs

Below is a warning that was release by Blaenau Gwent Trading Standards in July 2016.

Blaenau Gwent Trading Standards has warned families considering buying an autism service/support dog to be on their guard when choosing the company or trainer who is supplying the dog. They advise families to check whether they are registered with Assistance Dogs International (ADI), which runs an accreditation scheme for charities and other not-for-profit organisations. If they’re not ADI registered, Trading Standards say families should do as many checks as possible, including speaking to previous customers and looking at reviews. Continue reading

Girl with a golden retriever puppy

Animal Assisted Therapy: Do you deliver it? If so, what’s your perspective?

We have been approached by a student from the University of Northampton who is looking to interview a number of therapists who are are currently delivering Animal Assisted Therapy to children and young people. If you are able to help please contact the student on the contact details below. Please note: The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) takes no responsibility for this research, and any queries or issues,must be directed to the researcher themselves. Continue reading