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Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE)
Programs & Services

Animal-Human Connections Syllabus 2006

Christina Risley-Curtiss,MSSW, PhD
Arizona State University School of Social Work
Tempe, AZ 85287-1802

Office Phone: 480-965-6076; Home: 623-936-8133
West Hall 226: Office hours: 4-5 pm Mondays, other days by appointment
email: [email protected]

This course focuses on two broad areas of current significance for social work practice; (1) the link between animal cruelty and other forms of violence such as domestic violence, child and elder abuse; and (2) the powerful potential that positive connections with animals have for healing and promoting resiliency in human beings while at the same time benefitting the animals. This course examines issues of prevention and treatment and builds practice skills in both areas. It considers animal cruelty and healing animal connections within an ecological and empowerment context; and works to build sensitivity to various cultural contexts.

Animals are an integral part of the lives of many of the clients that social workers serve. This may be in the form of violence to animals as well as other family members, or as companions and/or therapeutic supports. This course is designed to help the student develop an understanding of the animal-human connection-both the negative and positive sides-- and acquire some basic skills in identifying animal cruelty and in accessing and utilizing animal-assisted activities and therapy.

Ascione, F.R., & Arkow, P. (Eds.). (1999). Child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse. Indiana: Purdue University Press
Fine, A. (2000). Handbook of animal -assisted therapy. CA: Academic Press.
Jory, B. & Randour, M.L. (1999). The anicare model of treatment for animal bbuse. Washington Grove, MD: PSYETA.
Other readings are on reserve in the library or if they have an * they are available through the library e-journals or on-line.

Unit 1: Introduction and Overview of the Animal-Human Connection
Unit 2: Animal Cruelty
Unit 3: The Link between Animal Cruelty and Multiple Forms of Family Violence
Unit 4: Assessment and Treatment of Animal Cruelty
Unit 5: Animals and Human Development
Unit 6: Animal -assisted Activities/therapy by Setting
Unit 7:Animal -assisted Activities/therapy by Population
Unit 8: Services for Individuals and Families with Animals

1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the scope and impact of animal cruelty and the link with family violence.
2. Students will be able to identify characteristics and dynamics of families with animal cruelty and corresponding intervention issues.
3. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of how family structure, race and ethnicity, gender, social class, physical challenge impact issues of animal-human connections.
4. Students will be able to identify a range of services available to families with animals; and identify the gaps in such services.
5. Students will be aware of the value position that animals and humans are interdependent, that animals are sentient beings that feel pain and have communication and thinking skills, and that animals are often considered family members.
6. Students will demonstrate awareness of personal his/herstory, values, and attitudes and how they can affect service provision in relation to the animal-human connection.
7. Students will appreciate the need for professional competence in the provision of animal-human connection services.
8. Students will demonstrate assessment skills using an ecological and strengths based perspective regarding animal cruelty and positive animal-human connections.
9. Students will be able to demonstrate skills in helping families and children with animal cruelty issues.
10. Students will be able to assess the service needs of families and children with animal family members.
11. Students will be able to discuss the benefits of including animals in social work intervention and identify the issues surrounding such inclusion.

The Link animal cruelty disaster preparedness &
animal assisted activities animal assisted therapy response
service animals zoonoses social catalyst
biophilia social support
interdisciplinary ecological approach
pet partner certification animal hoarding
AniCare compassion fatigue


Written Paper Assignments
NOTE that all papers are required to be typed, double-spaced, and referenced using the APA
(American Psychological Association) format (see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.), Washington, DC. It is in the library or can be accessed through or The SSW Student Resource Library will also have help. Credit will be taken off for not using APA style for citations and references. If you think you need help with this please let me know.
Writing quality (grammar, punctuation, spelling, organization, etc.) is considered as part of your grade for each paper so I would suggest that you have someone proofread and/or edit your paper for you. In addition, the University does have a writing lab. All papers should start with an introduction that states the purpose of the paper.

Note that you should always make a hard copy, for yourself, of any written assignment you hand in. Although it happens infrequently, written assignments do sometimes get lost. To avoid any problems make and keep a hard copy.

1. Article Critique: Identifying and Summarizing Relevant Information From Published Research (15%) Due in class February 13. The purpose of this assignment is to increase your skills in identifying relevant information from published studies about animal-human connections. To complete this assignment:

A. Locate either a qualitative or quantitative research-based article (no more than 5 years old) that presents findings about humans and animals. Make sure that the article is from a professional source (rather than a popular magazine or non-peer-reviewed website). Check with the instructor about whether an article is suitable for this assignment and whether the assignment should be adjusted given your academic level.
B. Because the class will be sharing the information that each student selects, it is important that no 2 students select the same article. You thus will need to inform the instructor of the article you have selected-whoever is first to "claim" an article "gets it."
C. Prepare a 1-page overview of the article. Be sure to include:
a. Complete citation in APA format
b. Description of the study sample (i.e., whether is was selected randomly or purposively, sample size, gender, race or ethnicity, age, other demographics reported in the article)
c. Context (e.g., nation, state, city, county, or other information about where the study took place)
d. Whether the researcher(s) used a quantitative or qualitative method.
e. A list of the most interesting/important findings.
D. Turn in a copy of the article attached to the 1 page overview and bring enough copies for all class members.

2. Animal Related Program Experience (30%) Due on April 12, 19 or April 26. Each student is to identify a therapeutic or other animal-human program (can be a AAA, AAT or a service program such as Project Safe House), visit the program, interview the director of the program and observe the program in action. The student is to prepare a 30 minute presentation that includes a description of the program and its goals, how the program is implemented (demonstration),any evaluation and/or oversite efforts, research on its efficacy, a reference list, and a 1 page handout summarizing this information. You can also include pictures or video tapes of the program if desired. In order that all students don't cover the same program you need to inform the instructor as to your choice of programs and get okay. Be creative!

3. Self Designed Assignment (40%) Due April 26. Each student is design their own final project/paper to meet their own learning needs and interests. A written summary or outline of the final project will be submitted to the instructor by or before April 5, 2006 in order for the instructor to determine the acceptability of the effort by program level (BA/BS, Masters, PhD), by goal, and by relevance to class material. It would be helpful if you were to meet with the instructor prior to this to discuss ideas for projects (we might do this in class).

4. Follow-up Plan (15%) Due last day of class Each student will turn in the last day of class a one page plan outlining how you will use what you have learned in this class to promote positive animal-human connections in work with individual clients, communities, organizations or society as a whole. The plan must include:
1. At least one goal
2. Specific steps that may be taken to accomplish the goal and,
3. A time frame for carrying the steps out.

5. Participation (5 points)
We are lucky-this is a small class. But it also means that class attendance and participation are even more critical. Thus consistent attendance and informed participation are worth 5 points.

Grading Criteria for All Assignments
a. Organization and clarity of ideas presented, including an introduction and summary section.
b. Adequacy and thoroughness of responses to all instructions in the assignment.
c. Ability to use class and reading material in critical analysis of subject.
d. Use of and integration of supportive data and ideas from the literature, properly cited and referenced in APA style (5th ed.), and from practice.
e. Writing quality (e.g., proper use of punctuation, correct grammar, spelling and sentence structure); proper use on non-sexist/non-racist language.
Grading Scale:
A = 91 - 100 points
B = 81 - 90.99 points
C = 71 - 80.99 points
D = 61- 70.99 points
E = below 60 points

Self Designed Project 35 points
Program Presentation 30 points
Article Critique 15 points Follow-up Plan 15 points Participation 5 points 100 points Grading Philosophy

A- Outstanding Achievement. Student evidences in written presentations and class participation exceptional knowledge of class material (e.g., class lectures and literature--independent review of literature, creative and innovative use of literature and knowledge of relevant research) and ability to apply class material analytically to practice.

B-Satisfactory Achievement. Student evidences in written presentations and class participation a constantly competent grasp of the class material (lectures and literature) analytically in practice situations. A majority of the class is expected to attain this level of performance.

C-Minimally Acceptable Achievement. Student reflects inconsistent grasp of class material (lectures and literature) and ability to apply class material analytically in practice situations. When student is determined to be functioning at this level, formal written notification by instructor is provided to student and advisor midterm.

D, E-Unacceptable. (No credit). Student evidences lack of understanding of major concepts of direct practice or does not evidence ability to apply class material such as lectures and literature analytically to practice situation.

**NOTE that the following class schedule for topics is tentative and may be altered depending on our progress.


January 23 & 30: Unit 1: Introduction and Overview of the Animal-Human Connection Course
Required readings
Ascione & Arkow (1999) pg 3-49.
Fine (2000), pg 3-19.
Adams, C.J. (1994). Bringing peace home: A feminist philosophical perspective on the abuse of women, children and pet animals. In R. Lockwood & F.R. Ascione (Eds.) Cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence (318-339) . Indiana: Purdue University Press.
Collis, G.M. & McNichols,J. (1998). A theoretical basis for health benefits of pet
ownership. In C. Wilson & D.C. Turner (Eds.) Companion Animals in Human Health (pp 105-122). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
*Netting, E.E.,, Wilson, C.C., & New, J.C. (1987). The human-animal bond: Implications for practice. Social Work, 32, 60-64.
Wilson, C. C. (1994). A conceptual framework for human animal research: the challenge revisited. In C. Wilson & D.C. Turner (Eds.) Companion Animals in Human Health (pp 61-89). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
*Wolf, D.B. (2000). Social work and speciesism. Social Work, 45, 88-93.

February 6 & 13: Unit 2: Animal Cruelty (County Animla CReulty Proscetor to speak on why prosecution is impartant and what he needs for a good case).
Required Readings
Ascione & Arkow (1999), pg 199-208; 303-334.
Arluke, A. (2002). Animal abuse as dirty play. Symbolic Interaction, 25, 405-430.
*Arluke, A., Levin, J., Luke, C. & Ascione, F. (1999). The relationship of animal abuse to violence and other forms of antisocial behavior. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 963-975.
*Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium. (2002). Health implications of animal hoarding. Health & Social Work, 27, 125-136.
*Flynn, C.P. (2000). Why family professionals can no longer ignore violence towards animals.
Family Relations, 49, 87-95.

February 13 & 20 (article critique due on 13th): Unit 3: The Link between Animal Cruelty and Multiple Forms of Family Violence
Required Readings
Ascione & Arkow (1999), pg 50-61, 83-100; 109-175.
Fine (2000), pg 325-354.
Ascione, F. R. (1998). Battered women's report of their partner's and their children's
cruelty to animals. In R. Lockwood & F.,R. Ascione (Eds.) Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence (pp. 290-304). Indiana, Purdue University Press.
*Faver, C.A., & Strand, E.B. (2003). Domestic violence and animal cruelty: Untangling the web of abuse. Journal of Social Work Education, 39, 237-253.
*Miller. C. (2001). Childhood animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 735-749.

February 27: Unit 4: Assessment and Treatment of Animal Cruelty
Required readings
The AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse.
Ascione & Arkow (1999), pg 62-80; 343-379, 393-449.

March 6: ( Filed visit to our Sheriff's Animal Cruelty Investigation and Animal No Kill Shelter Program)

March 20: Unit 5: Animals and Human Development (including cultural issues) (Speaker on how to decide if a pet is for you, what kind of pet, the needs and costs of that pet, where to get pets and what low cost services are available to help care for pet) Video -The Witness
Required Readings
Ascione & Arkow (1999), pg 260-270, 380-392
Fine (2000), pg 41-78; 357-383.
*Johnson, R.A. & Meadows, R.L. (2002). Older Latinos, pets and health. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 24, 609-620. (Whole issue is on animals and people).
Meyers, B. (2002). Disenfranchised grief and the loss of an animal companion. In K.J. Doka (Ed.) Disenfranchised grief: New directions, challenges, and strategies for practice. IL: Research Press
*Paul. E.S. & Serpell, J.A. (1996). Obtaining a new pet dog: Effects on middle childhood children and their families. Applied Animal Behavior Science,47, 17-29.
Risley-Curtiss, C. & Holley, L. C., Cruickshank, T., Porcelli, J., Rhoads, C., Murphy, S.B., Bacchus, D., & Hawkins, S. (In press). "She was family:" Women of color and their animal-human connections. AFFILIA. (I will provide through blackboard)
Risley-Curtiss, C., Holley, L.C. & Wolf, S. (In press). The animal-human bond and ethnic diversity. Social Work. (I will provide through blackboard)
Robin, M. & ten Benzel, R. (1985). Pets and socialization of children. In R.Lockwood & F.R. Ascione (Eds.) Cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence (pp 105-120). Indiana: Purdue University Press.
*Sable, P. (1995). Pets, attachment, and well-being across the life cycle. Social Work, 40, 334-341.
Siegel, J.M. (1995). Pet ownership and the importance of pets among adolescents. Anthrozooz, 8, 217-223..

March 27,April 3 & 10 & 17 (Presentations April 3,10 & 17): Unit 6 & 7: Animal-assisted Activities/ therapy by Setting & Populations
Required Readings
Fine (2000), pg 21-40; 81-149, 153-177; 179-323; 415-448.
Ascione & Arkow (1999), pg 393-442.
*Brodie, S.J. & Biley, F.C. (1999). An exploration of the potential benefits of pet-facilitated therapy. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 8, 329-337.
*Ebenstein, H., & Wortham, J. (2001). The value of pets in geriatric practice: A program example. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 35(2), 99-115. (Not online but journal in library)
*Hanselman, J.L. (2002). Coping skills interventions with adolescents in anger management using animals in therapy. Journal of Child and Adolescent Group Therapy, 11(4), 159-195.
*Kehoe, M. (1990). Loneliness and the aging homosexual: Is pet therapy an answer? Journal of Homosexuality, 20(3/4), 137-142. (Not in e-journals but in hard copy)
*Margolies, L. (1999). The long goodbye: Women, companion animals and maternal loss. Clinical Journal of Social Work, 27, 289-304.

April 24
Unit 8: Services for Individuals and Families with Animals (includes disaster work) (speaker on compassion fatique and one on starting a animal related non-profit)
Required Readings
*Rew, L. (2000). Friends and pets as companions: Strategies for coping with the loneliness among homeless youth. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 13, 125-140.
*Siegel, J.M. , Angulo, F.J., Detels, R., Wesch, J. & Mullen, A. (1999). AIDS diagnosis and depression in the Multicenter AIDS cohort study: the ameliorating impact of pet ownership. AIDS CARE, 11, 157-170.

May 1 Last Class (Follow-up Plan due)

Partial Bibliography

I. The Positive Animal-Human Bond
Albert, A. & Bulcroft, K. (1988). Pets, families and the life course. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 543-552.
Ascione, F.R. & Arkow, P. (Eds.) (1999). Child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse.
Indiana: Purdue University Press.
Abdill, M.N., & Juppe, D. (Eds.) (1997). Pets in therapy. VA: Idyll Arbor, Inc.
Becker, M. (2002). The healing power of pets. NY: Hyperion.
Brown, S. (2002). Ethnic differences in pet attachment among students at an American school of veterinary medicine. Society and Animals, 10, 455-456.
Brown, B.H., Richards, H.C., & Wilson, C.A. (1996). Pet bonding and pet bereavement among adolescents. Journal of Counsleing and Development, 74,505-509.
Cusak, O. (1988). Pets and mental health. NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.
Fine, A. (2000). Handbook of animal -assisted therapy. CA: Academic Press.
Gage, M.G. & Christensen, D.H. (19..). Early adolescents' values about their pets. The Journal of Psychology, 12, 417-425.
Hirschman, E.C. (1994). Consumers and their companion animals. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 616-632.
Hooker, S.D., Free,am, L.H., & Stewart, P. (2002). Pet therapy research: A historical review. Holistic Nurse Practitioner, 17, 17-23.
Lago, D., Delaney, M., Miller, M. & Grill, C. (1989). Companion animals, attitudes towards pets and health outcomes among the elderly: A long-term follow-up. Anthrozooz, 3,25-34.
Levine, L. (2002). Cat-egorically family. SWS Network News, XIX(4), 15-19.
Levinson, B. & Mallon, G.P. (1997). Pet-oriented child psychotherapy. Il: Charles C Thomas.
Mackler, J.L. (1982). Teaching an old dog new tricks in family therapy. Family Therapy, 9(3),305-310.
McCormick, A.R. & McCormick, M.D. (1997). Horse sense and the human heart. Florida:
Health Communications, Inc.
McElroy, S.C. (1996). Animals as teachers and healers. OR: New Sage Press.
Melson, G.F. (2001). Why the wild things are. MA: Harvard University Press.
Nebbe, L.L. (1995). Nature as a guide. Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media Corporation.
Nies, M.A., Vollman, M., Cook, T. (1999). African American women's experiences with physical activity in their daily lives. Public Health Nursing, 16, 23-31.
Peretti, P.O. (1990). Elderly-animal freindship bonds. Social Behavior and Personality,18, 151-156.
Poderscek, A.L., Paul, E.S., & Serpell, J.A. (2000). Companion animals and us. NY: Cambridge University Press.
Poresky, R.H., Hendrix, C., Mosier, J.E., & Samuelson, M.L. (19..). Children's pets and adults' self-concepts. Journal of Psychology, 122, 463-469.
Reynolds, A. R. (1995). Bring me the ocean. MA: VanderWyk & Burnham.
Serpell, J. Guest Editor's Introduction: Animals in Children's Lives.
Scully, M. (2002). Dominion. St Martin's Press.
Stallones, L., Johnson, T.P., Garrity, T.F., & Marx, M.B. (1990). Quality of attachment ro companion animals among U.S. adults 21 to 64 years of age. Anthrozooz,3, 171-176.
Staats, S., & Horner, K. (1999). Allocating time to people andpets: Correlates with income and well-being in a mid-west community sample. The Journal of Psychology, 133, 541-552.
Western Journal of Nursing, Volume 34, issue 6 is totally on animal-human connections.
Wilson, C.C. & Turner, C.D. (Eds). (1998). Companion animals in human health. CA: Sage.
Wilson, C.C. & Netting, F.E. (1987). New directions: Challenges for human-animal bond research and the elderly. Journal of Applied gerontology, 6, 189-200.

II. The Violent Animal-Human Connection
Ascione, F.R. (1997). Humane education research: Evaluating efforts to encourage children's kindness and caring toward animals. Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monographs, 123 (1), 57-77.
Ascione, F.R. (199?). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychology. ANTHROZOOS,6(4), 227-247.
Boat, B.W. (1995). The relationship between violence to children and violence to animals: An ignored link? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 229-235.
Cahill, S.E. (2002). Beastly bodies in human hands, heads and hearts: Reflections on animal abuse as dirty play. Symbolic Interaction, 25, 431-435.
Felthouse, A.R., Kellert, S.R. (1987). Childhood cruelty to animals and later aggression
against people: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144(6), 710-717.
Flynn, C.P. (1999). Exploring the link between corporal punishment and children's cruelty to animals. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61, 971-981.
Flynn, C.P. (1999). Animal abuse in childhood and later support for interpersonal violence in families. Society and Animals, 7(2), 161-172.
Guymer, E.C., Mellor, D., Luk, E.S.L., & Pearse, V. (2001). The development of a screening questionnaire for childhood cruelty to animals. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 1057-1063.
Lockwood, R., & Ascione, F. (Eds.). (1998). Cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence:
Readings in research and application. Indiana: Purdue University Press.
Merz-Perez, L., Heide, K.M. & Silverman, I.J. (2001). Childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against humans. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(5), 556-572.
Raupp, C.D. Treasuring, trashing and terrorizing: Adult outcomes of childhood socialization with animals. PSYETA;
Sims, V.K., Chin, M.G., Eckman,M.L., Enck, B.M., & Abromaitis, S.M. (2001). Caregiver attributions are not just for children: Evidence for generalized low power schemas. Journal of Applied Psychology, 22, 527-541.
Slavkin, M.L. (2001). Enuresis, firesetting, and cruelty to animals: Does the ego triad show predictive validity? Adolescence, 36, 461-466.

III. Some Websites & Organizations
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
American Humane Association
Delta Society
Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)
Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association
Humane Society of the United States
Latham Foundation
North American Riding for the Handicapped Association
PSYETA: Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


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