Non-human Animals as Research Participants: Ethical Practice in Animal Assisted Interventions and Research in Aotearoa/New Zealand

  • Catherine M. Smith
  • Emma Tumilty
  • Peter Walker
  • Gareth J. Treharne


In this chapter we outline the need to develop ethical frameworks to guide research on the role of animal-orientated health, therapeutic, and service interventions. We discuss findings from our research on uses of animals in therapeutic settings and benefits of human–canine interactions for human health. These stories from the field reveal that current ethics review processes do not recognise the animal as an equal partner in the potential reciprocal benefits and risks of therapeutic human–animal relationships. We explore how these review processes frame research on the relationships between humans and non-human animals and use the ethical review system of Aotearoa/New Zealand as an example. We propose an ethical framework that goes beyond animal welfare legislation and recognises a range of non-human animal capacities.



The authors would like to thank the human and non-human animals in their lives who contribute to their understanding of the world, including their research participants from previous studies funded through support from the University of Otago Department of Gender, Social Work, and Sociology and from a University of Otago Research Grant.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine M. Smith
    • 1
  • Emma Tumilty
    • 1
  • Peter Walker
    • 1
  • Gareth J. Treharne
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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