Samantha lives with social anxiety. Because of her disability she has withdrawn from society and prefers to live in isolation. Samantha loves animals. Her therapist recommends she gets a pet to give her companionship. The therapist gives a report that states animals are known to have a positive effect on wellbeing. Based on the therapist’s recommendation Samantha asks us for funding to buy a pet to support her emotional wellbeing.
Would we fund this?
No, we wouldn’t typically fund pets or companion animals as a capacity building or emotional support. While we know pets can be comforting and valued companions to people, they’re unlikely to meet the NDIS funding criteria.
This is because they usually don’t relate to a specific disability support need. They’re also unlikely to be an effective and beneficial support, or to meet our definition of an assistance animal. Our Guideline – Assistance animals has more information about the definition of an assistance animal.
Pets aren’t likely to meet our funding criteria because a pet is:
- not generally a disability-related support
- not likely to be effective and beneficial, taking into account good practice, and it’s not likely to mean you’ll need other supports less. When we say taking into account current good practice, we mean thinking about what’s recommended, or has been found to work well, for other people in situations like yours
- seen as a day-to-day living cost that’s not related to, or caused by, your disability.
Why wouldn’t we fund it?
To decide if a support is reasonable and necessary for you, we think about the information you give us against the NDIS funding criteria.
We fund assistance animals, but we don’t fund pets or companion animals. In most cases, animals you buy to give you companionship, fun and emotional support are seen as pets. We view the costs of buying, training, feeding and looking after a pet or companion animal as a day-to-day living cost that’s not related to your disability needs. Typically we’d expect families or individuals to pay and care for a pet or companion animal, the same as for anyone without disability.
We may fund an animal if you need it directly as a result of your disability support needs. This means the animal must help lower the disability-specific barriers you have in living your life. You should need it as a result of your disability needs.
Any animals we fund must also meet the NDIS funding criteria. An animal must be value for money and be effective and beneficial for you. This is why it’s unlikely we’ll fund animals, other than assistance animals or dog guides.
For further information on assistance animals please read Our Guideline - Assistance animals.
What else do we think about?
If we think it’s reasonable and necessary, we may help you with disability related supports to let you take care of your own pet, but we won’t give funding:
- to teach you to train your pet or companion animal
- for support workers or others to train or care for your pet or companion animal on your behalf
- for the cost of food and vet care for your pet or companion animal.
Anton is 16 years old and lives with a psychosocial disability, and with anxiety related to his disability. He has panic attacks when he’s in unexpected situations and doesn’t feel safe when strangers visit his home. Anton has capacity building funding in his NDIS plan and uses this for occupational therapy and psychology.
Anton’s therapist has suggested Anton should think about getting a dog to give him emotional support. His therapist thinks a dog is likely to help him to feel less anxious when he’s in unexpected situations. The calming presence of a dog may also help Anton feel safer when he’s around strangers.
Anton’s parents ask us for funding to buy a dog and for the ongoing upkeep cost of the animal. They include the therapist’s recommendation for a dog with their request.
To work out if this support is reasonable and necessary, we look at the information Anton’s parents have given us against the NDIS funding criteria. We think about whether:
- the dog is an extra living cost solely and directly as a result of Anton’s disability needs
- there is evidence the pet will be effective and beneficial for Anton, taking into account current good practice. When we say taking into account current good practice, we mean thinking about what’s recommended, or has been found to work well, for other people in situations like yours
- the pet is value for money, and is the most cost effective support option compared to other supports that might help in the same way at a lower cost
- it would be reasonable to expect families to pay for the cost and upkeep of a pet for their child.
In Anton’s case the planner decides:
- While Anton may enjoy having a pet, his need for a pet isn’t solely and directly as a result of his disability related support needs.
- The evidence from the therapist and family doesn’t show how a pet would effectively give Anton any disability specific support. The evidence also didn’t say what tasks the pet would do to help Anton with his disability support needs.
- The cost of buying and looking after the pet isn’t value for money, as a pet is not a disability related support.
- The cost of buying and looking after a pet is something that most families would reasonably be expected to pay for their child.
The planner decides the pet doesn’t meet the NDIS funding criteria. The support is not approved.
For more information, refer to: