5891 Cedar Lake Road South, St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Although working with animals, specifically canines, in a therapeutic setting has many benefits, there are risks associated with the intervention. Because some therapy utilizes an animal, it is important to note in advance the policies and procedures needed to maximize the intervention and ensure a safe work environment, both for the dog and the client/family. 1. Participation in therapy with the dog present is not guaranteed and will be based on the therapist’s assessment. If the assessment determines the client and/or family is not a good fit, other treatment options will be discussed and/or utilized. If therapy with a dog is requested and the therapist determines it is not a good fit, appropriate referrals may be made.
2. If a history or indication of animal abuse or other risk factors are present, the therapist will determine whether participation in therapy with the dog is indicated.
3. Should a client/family become aggressive (hits, kicks, bites, pulls, pinches, etc.) towards the dog during therapy, the therapist will determine if it is appropriate to continue treatment with the use of the dog or make the appropriate referrals if the client/family is seeking therapy specifically with use of a dog.
4. Anyone wishing to participate in therapy with the dog present should be screened for allergies before working with the dog. All allergies must be reported before beginning treatment so the proper precautionary measures can be taken. Should documentation from a medical professional indicate that allergies, skin or respiratory sensitivities, or other medical conditions exist, the therapist will determine if it is appropriate to continue treatment or make the appropriate referral. Neither the therapist, nor Family Connections Counseling Center, Inc. can be held liable for allergic or other physiological reactions to the dog.
5. Any fear of dogs must be reported before treatment commences so the proper precautionary measures can be taken and goodness of fit determined.
6. If sick or injured, the dog will not be able to provide services until the illness or injury subsides or upon veterinary approval, as sickness or injury could negatively impact the animals’ behavior.
7. Although the dog will remain current on her vaccinations and health screenings, there is always a slight risk of zoonotic disease transmission (i.e., the sharing of diseases between animals and humans) when working with an animal. Every effort will be made by the therapist to reduce the risk of zoonosis.
8. Direct contact with the animal’s urine, stool, and/or blood should be avoided. Every effort will be made by the therapist to educate/model for the client and/or caregiver(s) appropriate ways to physically engage with the dog.
9. All clients must either wash their hands, use hand sanitizer wipes before and after touching the dog.
10. The dog is regularly groomed and nails trimmed. Neither the therapist, nor Family Connections Counseling Center, Inc. can be held liable for injuries incurred by the dog’s nails.
11. Dogs play or show affection by licking or nibbling, which may result in oral contact from the dog. Although every effort will be made by the therapist to monitor this, there is a risk for light biting or zoonotic disease transmission to occur when a dog makes oral contact with a person. The dog will be allowed to lick the patient upon obtaining the client’s and/or caregiver(s) verbal permission. Neither the therapist, nor Family Connections Counseling Center, Inc. can be held liable for injury or zoonotic disease transmission as a result of oral contact from the dog.
12. Dogs use their body to communicate and may brush against, lean or jump onto laps. Other body language such as tail wagging or body wiggling may also occur. Such behaviors create a risk of loss of balance, falling, or light bruising. Neither the therapist, nor Family Connections Counseling Center can be held liable for injury incurred by physically engaging with the dog.
13. The client and/or caregiver will promptly report all accidents and/or injuries to the therapist. Should injury occur, the therapist will respond accordingly and take proper action to help the client get the appropriate medical care.
14. The dog cannot be used in therapy without the therapist present. No other provided, unless previously approved by the therapist can handle or use the dog in a therapeutic capacity.
15. Clients are never to be left alone with the dog.
16. If at any time, the dog shows signs of distress, irritation, fear, or in any way acts in a negative manner, the dog will be allowed to take a break. No one, except the therapist, should touch or interact with the dog during these times. The therapist will assess and determine whether it is safe for the dog to return to the session.
17. Animals like people, have their own moods that determine their level of desire to interact with others. It is therefore understood that the dog is allowed to determine if and when to participate in therapy/interact with others. While the dog is present during all scheduled therapy sessions, the dog will never be forced to interact should she indicate signs of distress and/or resistance. She has a kennel in which she can be if any of the difficulties described her (and above) for her safety and client/family safety. Adult, Minor or Individual with a Guardian I (or parent/guardian of) understand and agree to the policies, procedures, and risks associated with the use of a therapy dog in psychological treatment. I hereby consent to therapeutic services utilizing the dog, provided by the therapist, and accept full liability in the event that the dog causes injury to me (or my child) in any way throughout the course of treatment. Furthermore, I am not aware of any fear, allergy, skin or respiratory sensitivity, or other medical condition for myself (or my child) that would render physical interaction (i.e., touching, handling) with or close proximity to a therapy dog potentially harmful to my (or my child’s) health.