Volume 11, Number 2 - Spring 2020

Jérôme Michalon

The Rise of Therapy Animals’ Personhood: A Note on the Ontological Dimensions of Professional Dynamics

Abstract. Based on a sociohistorical description of the emergence of animal assisted care practices, this research note explores the link between professional dynamics and the recent evolution of human-animal relationships. A joint process of professionalization and subjectivation is observed: the more these practices are defined as “therapy,” involving healthcare professionals, the more animals are seen as singular beings, even persons. It is argued that looking at human-animal relationships can bring to light the ontological dimensions of professional dynamics, and, symmetrically, that looking at professions can be relevant to understand the evolution of human-animal relationships, and contribute to reflections on animal work.