Co-Innovation Page


Re-Imagining AAHS to Foster One Health for People, Pets, and Partners™

Health in this context includes the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of people of all ages and the health and welfare of pets and other animals involved in delivering AAHS. Read more..


Veterans Affairs Committee Recommends Creating a Psychiatric Service Dog Program for Veterans

Ottawa, June 16, 2022

"It is not currently possible to identify programs or businesses that can guarantee that their dogs meet the requirements of a structured program for psychiatric service dogs. That is why it is imperative that the Government of Canada mandate a competent, independent authority to establish an industry-wide standard. The Committee is recommending that this responsibility be given to the Canadian Foundation for Animal Assisted Support Services." 





With heartfelt appreciation, we acknowledge and extend our gratitude to The Horsemanship for Life Project for their generous financial gift and for partnering with us to spearhead Canada’s first voluntary standard for Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS).









Re-imagining Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS): Developing Canada’s first voluntary National Standard of Canada (NSC) for AAHS 

Author: Joanne MossAUTHORS INFO & AFFILIATIONS, Publication: Human-Animal Interactions 12, Number 1 CABI Article Abstract page Published Commentary:

One Health Knowledge Bank:

Requirements for standards development

To be recognized as a National Standard of Canada developed by an SCC-accredited SDO, the standard must be developed in accordance with the Requirements & Guidance – Accreditation of Standards Development Organizations. Key requirements include (but are not limited to): 

  • development by consensus from a balanced committee of interested parties 
  • public scrutiny
  • publication in Canada’s two official languages
  • consistency with (or incorporation of) existing international and foreign government  standards
  • not acting as a barrier to trade
  • maintenance through periodic review (5-year cycle) or as needed

The results of the periodic review of the standard confirm that the technical content is still valid or requires revision or withdrawal. This ensures that standards continue to be relevant and current. Source:

The Rationale for Voluntary National Standards of Canada {NSC}

Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS), commonly referred to as Animal-Assisted Services, encompasses a variety of multi- and interdisciplinary practices such as breeding, training, and placement of Assistant/Service Animals and Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) that include Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA), Animal-Assisted Learning (AAL), and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) which support humans while safeguarding the welfare of the Human Services Assistance Animals (HSAA). AAHS is delivered by an Animal-Assisted Human Service Provider (AAHSP) and Animal-Assisted Services Professionals. AAHS is a subcategory within Canada’s human services industry. This evolving industry is a significant driver within an all-encompassing socio-economic sector and growing self-regulated marketplace.

AAHS are not standardized through published National Standards of Canada (NSCs) or regulated by Canada’s public sector. Consequently, access to AAHS, such as animal-assisted healthcare, social, justice, and corrections services, is inconsistent, ambiguous, and confusing, and quality cannot always be ascertained. The absence of NSCs has the potential to harm consumers, end-users, the public at large, and the animals involved in service delivery while impacting the credibility of service providers and essential resources to sustain and foster innovation. This NSC outlines the requirements for developing a management system for AAHSPs and AASPs.

The NSC aims to:

• increase transparency and accountability of the delivery of AAHS;

• establish essential requirements and best practices for AAHS administration and governance, and

• promote a voluntary, third-party AAHS conformity assessment program to cultivate a credibility chain.

Canada's First Voluntary National Standard of Canada {NSC} for Animal-Assisted Human Services
Download this Standard          Téléchargez la norme

Download/Télécharger Press Release/Communiqué


This NSC is intended for all Animal-Assisted Human Service Providers (AAHSP), whether they be an individual or organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, held publicly or privately, engaged in the business of AAHS delivery.

“Shall” vs “Should”: In this NSC, “shall” indicates that the requirement is mandatory and is supported by normative references, whereas “should” indicates that the requirement is recommended or a best practice statement.

Notice of Intent for the voluntary development of a National Standard of Canada for Animal-Assisted Human Services {AAHS}


For more information, please visit our Managing Quality page. 

National Standards of Canada {NSC} are considered voluntary because interested stakeholders recognize the need for and voluntarily participate in the development process. NSCs become mandatory if referenced in government legislation and/or regulations.  

NSC User Guide

User Guide for National Standard of Canada (NSC) Development of a Management System for Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS) (June 14-2023)

Guide de L'Utilsateur Pour (NNC)HSPA (June 14-2023)

It is the responsibility of the user of this NSC to judge its suitability for the user’s intended purpose. This NSC may be used for conformity assessment. For more information, please scroll down to access the infographic. 

Standards Development Overview

  • Relevant private Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) inform the National Standards of Canada (NSC) development process.
  • NSCs do not duplicate or replace existing private company standards. Instead, developing NSCs unites interested stakeholders from different disciplines, sectors, and communities to establish impartial minimum or essential best practices and benchmarks to improve quality of life, ensure public safety, inform and engage interested stakeholders, and respond to consumer needs, the welfare of Human Services Assistance Animals, marketplace demand to foster collective innovation.
  • Published NSCs provide a means to identify common and shared objectives to be proactive rather than reactive when responding to industry sector challenges.
  • NSCs are a tool to measure outcomes and the impact of those outcomes in an unbiased manner.
  • NSCs promote quality and enhance industry sector recognition and competition to meet growing market demands.

Types of Standards

According to the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), a standard is a document that provides a set of agreed-upon rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. Standards establish accepted practices, technical requirements, and terminologies for diverse fields.

Most standards aim to achieve an optimum order in a given context. Because they are easy to recognize and reference, standards enable organizations to ensure that their products or services can be manufactured, implemented and sold worldwide.

Standards can be either voluntary or mandatory:
  • Standards are voluntary when organizations are not legally required to follow them. Organizations may choose to follow them to meet customer or industry demands.
  • Standards are mandatory when enforced by laws or regulations, often for health or safety reasons.

How Other Standards Differ from National Standards of Canada {NSC}

Business or organizational standards are private and only apply to those that create them and their members where applicable. Most private standards are not publicly available. Private standards refer to standard operating procedures {SOPs} which answer the question "How does the business operate and deliver its services?"

NSCs are not SOPs but a compilation of national mandatory descriptive rather than prescriptive requirements and best practice statements informed by Normative e.g. legislation and Informative documents e.g. research, public consultations, and consensus-oriented dialogue and decision-making carried out by the Standards Development Technical Committee {TC}. The published NSC is available to the public and free to download.

Put simply, these Canadian human services industry standards were created by and for the people {interested stakeholders} to establish essential benchmarks and suggested best practices. Therefore, NSCs answer the question of what are the essential requirements to operate an AAHS business.

Published NSCs

Published NSCs do not certify service providers or accredit their programs {services, activities, etc.}, rather a Third Party Conformity Assessment Program could be implemented to evaluate whether an organization's programs meet or exceed the NSC. NSCs are descriptive requirements and conformity assessments determine whether an organization demonstrates compliance or answers the question of how the organization meets or exceeds NSCs.

Program accreditation that does not involve third-party contractual or governmental accreditation through regulatory requirements may suggest that self-attestation, self-governance, or peer review processes may determine and reflect an organization's benchmarks and its brand's performance. 

Users and Benefits


The Infographic Text Version

This list of potential users (interested stakeholders} is not exhaustive.


Enhance consumer confidence.

NSCs are impartial and updated to remain current and useful to inform choices. 

Service Providers

Manage risk and quality.

Improve business practices where applicable.

A tool to determine whether a service provider meets or exceeds the NSCs.

Enhance credibility in the marketplace.

Public Sector

Inspire the development of new public policy or revise an existing public policy to meet shared objectives with interested stakeholders.

Reference NSCs in part or whole in legislation and regulations.

Private Sector

Inform and reference published NSCs in policies and best practices.

Reference NSCs when considering sponsorship.

Grant-Makers and Donors

Invite Animal-Assisted Human Service Providers and Professionals that use published NSCs to apply for grants.

Public and Private Foundations

Use published NSCs to inform giving options.

Federally Regulated Businesses

Make educated decisions about AAHS that directly or indirectly impact your businesses.

Responsibility of the Users

It is the responsibility of the users of an NSC to judge its suitability for the user’s intended purpose.

Click here to access the downloadable infographic.