The fact that animals can have a positive influence on the mood and health of people has been shown in various studies. Currently, animal-assisted programs are increasingly used in healthcare, especially in rehabilitation programs for patients with a wide range of problems. Also in an increasing number of hospitals, animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapies are used to promote recovery and maintenance of health (salutogenesis) and to stimulate healing. AnimalWise wants to critical examine these practices, with special attention to the well-being of the animals as well. Animal welfare is a growing concern in Animal-Assisted Services. Although studies have been conducted on stress signals and—to a lesser extent—positive emotions, no research has yet been conducted on the motivation of the integrated animal, to the best of our knowledge. Not all therapy animals are trained to assist. Are they volunteers or professionals? Volunteers have a higher degree of self-government and can quit when they are not motivated anymore. Professionals might, however, go the extra mile. Can we compare animal volunteers and professionals to their human equivalents? If so, this might help to structure discussions about animal welfare and motivation in interventions.

Read the full paper here: Wijnen, B. & Martens, P. (2022). Animals in Animal-Assisted Services: Are They Volunteers or Professionals? Animals12(19), 2564.

(This research is being done with Brigitte Wijnen and others)