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Keywords:

  • animal therapy;
  • assistance dog;
  • disability;
  • rehabilitation;
  • service dog

Currently, the supply of service dogs is limited. Of the more than 49 million Americans with a disability, fewer than 16,000 have a service dog. Every year, the Delta Society's National Service Dog Center—a clearinghouse for information about obtaining or training service dogs—receives thousands of calls from people who want, but cannot obtain, such a dog. This article reviews for professionals in rehabilitation the current research into the use of service dogs and/or animal-assisted therapy. Service dogs may help the clients of rehabilitation nurses meet their rehabilitation goals; therefore, it is incumbent upon nurses to be familiar with the research in this area. Another article by Susan Modlin, which discusses the author's personal experience with a service dog training program, will be published in the January/February 2001 issue of Rehabilitation Nursing.