Bragging Rights - AniCare Workshops

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Bragging Rights - AniCare Workshops

by Ken Shapiro, PhD., Executive Director, Animals and Society Institute
May 2009

As supporters of Animals and Society Institute are aware, one of the primary areas of our work is on the relationship between human violence and animal abuse. On the occasion of completing two AniCare workshops in Detroit, I would like to summarize our work in this area.

Our first foray into what we initially called Beyond Violence: The Human-Animal Connection was the production of a slide show presentation in the early 90s which later morphed into a video, now available as a DVD. We have given many presentations on what is now called the Link (a mark held by American Humane) and distributed about 1000 of the videos/DVDs.

However, our primary contribution to the Link is the AniCare therapy approach. In the late 90s, in response to the passage of the first state legislation allowing the judge to require counseling for a person convicted of animal abuse, we published The AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse. This was followed, in 2002, with the publication of AniCare Child: An assessment and treatment approach for childhood animal abuse. Each of the two handbooks is complemented by a DVD that shows role-played interviews demonstrating the application of the assessment and interventions that comprise the AniCare approach.

In 2005, with the generous support of the Kenneth A. Scott Family Foundation (our primary supporter of our work in this area), we held a three-day conference to train senior level therapists to give AniCare Workshops. We now have certified as AniCare Trainers 14 therapists in 9 states and Canada.

Since the publication of the adult version of AniCare, we have presented 44 workshops in 22 states to an estimated 650 counselors. Two more workshops are on the planning board one in Columbus OH, the second in Chicago.

To our knowledge, to date judges have ordered counseling specifying the use of AniCare in 10 cases involving convictions for animal abuse. We are gratified that we have conducted workshops in 5 of the 6 states in which these cases have occurred.

An evaluation study of AniCare Child using a mixed qualitative/quantitative method is currently underway, again through a grant from the Scott Foundation. We expect to complete the study by June 2010.

The general goal of our and the several other animal protection groups involved in the Link issue is to reduce animal abuse. We know that abuse of domesticated animals in homes is very prevalent and that the criminal justice system is just beginning to take such abuse seriously. The challenge for ASI is to increase the number of cases prosecuted (the demand side) and the number of therapists trained to assess and treat perpetrators (the supply side).

With regard to the former, ASI inaugurated the Rapid Response project last year. This project involves tracking cases in www.pet-abuse.com, a website which lists cases given coverage in the media. Selecting appropriate cases, we contact relevant criminal justice personnel and media with our message about the Link and the need for psychological evaluation and treatment.

If you would like to read more about the Link issue, please look at a paper which I prepared for the National Link Coalition, an ad hoc group working to develop local coalitions of stakeholders across the country (A Briefing Paper from the National Link Coalition for Mental Health Professionals).


Kenneth Shapiro earned his BA from Harvard University and his PhD in clinical psychology from Duke University. He is cofounder of Animals and Society Institute. He founded Psychologists for the Ethical treatment of Animals and the Society and Animals Forum. He is founder and editor of Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies; cofounder and coeditor of Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science; and editor of the Human-Animal Studies book series. His most recent book is Animal Models of Human Psychology: Critique of Science, Ethics and Policy. He is one of the developers of AniCare and AniCare Child, the only psychological treatment models for animal abusers, and trains therapists throughout the country on the use of these models.

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