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Human–Animal Interactions
A Social Work Guide
Janet Hoy-Gerlach and Scott Wehman
ISBN: 978-0-87101-517-4. 2017. Item #5174. 192 pages.
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Animals—whether as household companions, therapy animals comforting those in need, or highly trained service dogs supporting people with disabilities—occupy important positions in the lives of many individuals and their larger communities. Despite increasing recognition of the relevance of human–animal interaction (HAI) to social work practice, the topic remains largely ignored by many educational and training programs. As a result, the significant roles that animals can play in human interventions are often overlooked.

In Human–Animal Interactions: A Social Work Guide, Janet Hoy-Gerlach and Scott Wehman provide a comprehensive examination of HAI and its applicability to helping professions. The book begins with a detailed overview of HAI, analyzing its history; extensive biological, physiological, and social benefits; and associated risks and ethical concerns. Relational aspects of HAI are also considered, including the role of companion animals in family systems, the loss of companion animals, and the various contexts in which social workers may have to confront and address violence toward animals. The varying therapeutic roles of animals and related practice guidelines are delineated and discussed. The book concludes with an exploration of HAI specialization areas within social work practice, including veterinary social work, practice within humane societies, and other emerging areas.

Human–Animal Interactions: A Social Work Guide is a unique, meticulously researched resource for students, academics, and practitioners. Supplemented with current legal guidelines and recommendations for further reading, this book will help social workers and other helping professionals improve the welfare of humans and animals alike. One-third of the book sale royalties will go to the Toledo Area Humane Society, which provides MSW internships and innovative human-animal support programming.
About the Authors

Chapter 1: The Relevance of Human-Animal Interaction for Social Work Practice

Chapter 2: Human-Animal Interaction within the Social Work Profession: A Historical Overview

Chapter 3: Understanding Biological, Psychological, and Social Benefits of Human-Animal Interaction within a Strengths Perspective

Chapter 4: Risks and Ethical Issues Associated with Human-Animal Interaction

Chapter 5: Companion Animals within Family Systems across the Life Course

Chapter 6: The Link between Violence toward Humans and Violence toward Animals

Chapter 7: Animal Companionship and Human Diversity

Chapter 8: Companion Animal Loss

Chapter 9: Understanding the Therapeutic Roles of Animals

Chapter 10: Emerging Specialties: Veterinary Social Work and Social Work Practice at Humane Societies

Janet Hoy-Gerlach, PhD, LISW-S, is associate professor of social work at the University of Toledo. She has extensive experience as a social work practitioner in the public mental health services system and is an avid advocate for the inclusion of human-animal interaction considerations within social work practice. Janet is on the board of the Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS), where she developed and supervises MSW internship placements that facilitate benefits of human-animal interaction. She helped to develop the ProMedica Hope and Recovery Pet program, which places TAHS shelter animals as emotional support animals; this is one of the only such programs in the United States. Janet has provided expert witness testimony for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Department on Emotional Support Animals and has presented nationally and internationally on the therapeutic roles of animals. She lives in Toledo, Ohio, with her wife, Jen, and their son, Zane, three dogs (Henderson, Mabel, and Dawson), and two cats (Mickey Mantle and Dominique).

Scott Wehman, LICSW, has recently obtained independent licensure to practice social work and is a member of a community-based crisis response team providing emergency mental health assessments for residents of Hennepin County, Minnesota.