Petting a dog can help calm a survivor and offer physical comfort at a very uncomfortable time. Beetz, Uvnas-Moberg, Julius, and Kotrschal , in a meta-analysis of 69 studies involving animal-assisted interventions, found well-documented evidence of the physical benefits, including effects such as decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones.
Since physiological arousal has been linked to the development of PTSD, offering a unique early intervention may prevent more serious, long-term effects in the future. Emotional reactions to crises can vary, but two of the most common include fear and anxiety National Center for PTSD, Strategies to decrease these emotional reactions are essential to recovery. Chandler , in her experience during Hurricane Katrina, believed the dogs were more effective than other strategies in offering nurturance and decreasing anxiety.
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Additional research on the anxiety-reducing benefits of dogs can also be found at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human-Animal Interaction www. Finally, a critical role of a social worker is making connections with those in need. Establishing rapport and creating a working relationship with survivors helps to assure their needs are identified and addressed.
Many disaster responders have witnessed firsthand the benefits of the AACR dogs in facilitating these connections. In her experience responding to tornadoes and fires, Graham calls these canines a compassionate presence.
Animals in Social Work: Why and How They Matter (ebook)
Homish, Frazer, McCartan, and Billittier viewed the dogs as a beneficial supplement after the crash of Continental Flight Eaton-Stull describes how in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, her crisis response dog Maggie provided a source of support while facilitating connections with impacted students. Bua calls these AACR teams "extensions of responders.
References Beetz, A.
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Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: The possible role of oxytocin. Frontiers in Psychology , 3 , Blair, J. A study of active shooter incidents in the United States between and Bua, F. A qualitative investigation into dogs serving on animal assisted crisis response AACR teams: Advances in crisis counseling Doctoral dissertation.
Animal-Assisted Therapy, Veterinary Social Work, & Social Work With People & Pets in Crisis
Chandler, C. Animal assisted therapy with Hurricane Katrina survivors.
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Eaton-Stull, Y. Animal-assisted interventions in social work practice.
Roberts Eds. Animal-assisted crisis response. Graham, L. Dogs bringing comfort in the midst of a national disaster. Reflections , 15 1 , Greenbaum, S. Introduction to working with animal assisted crisis response animal handler teams.
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He contends that our biological continuity entails moral continuity. Ryan presents cogent arguments as to why it is that animals ought to matter morally to social workers, and engages in a sustained critique of the key moral principles that are deemed to underpin practice. He articulates an alternative moral principle that respects individuals irrespective of their species membership, and which informs a revised code of ethics that has profound theoretical and practical implications for social work and its practitioners.
The Series is produced in partnership with the Centre and aims to provide a range of key introductory and advanced texts that map out positions on animal issues. More information about the book is can be found here , and the book can be ordered here , and here.