Introduction: The incorporation of animal-assisted services is an emerging field of occupational therapy. There remains varying levels of involvement and knowledge of what is involved in animal-assisted services among Australian occupational therapists. The profession of occupational therapy acknowledges that competence as a clinician requires appropriate education and knowledge guiding clinical decision making.

Research Question:
This study aimed to explore the understanding and role of Australian occupational therapists including animal-assisted services in their practice, as well as the changes required to support future service delivery.

A cross sectional survey was conducted online. Participants were recruited through a digital mailing list, snowball sampling, and through a link published in the professional association newsletters. The survey consisted of short and multiple-answer questions and a 5-point Likert scale to identify therapist understanding and engagement in animal-assisted services and future practice supports needed. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Open-ended responses were analyzed using content analysis.

A total of 53 participants completed the survey. Approximately 50% of participants identified having some engagement in animal-assisted services; however, most acknowledged having low to moderate understanding of the field. Across all categories, participants identified that the key barriers to fulfilling their role within animal-assisted services included insufficient training and lack of understanding of the role. The top priorities to support occupational therapists in animal-assisted services included risk assessments, practice standards, and ethical guidelines for practice.