shelter dog

Our Mission

IHAC is devoted to the education, clinical training and scholarly development of social work graduate students interested in:

  • the myriad ways in which  animals and people intersect across the lifespan and across various contexts,

  • the ways that animal-supported experiences may be incorporated into efforts to promote human and animal well-being and reduce human physical and mental health problems,

  • encouraging and empowering people to gain understanding of the interrelationships among themselves, their families, and their communities, including the natural environment and its non-human inhabitants.

Our efforts focus on educating Master of Social Work (MSW) and social work PhD candidates to use best practices in animal-supported programs and interventions, and to learn and implement effective community collaborations. Students are encouraged to contribute creatively to our understanding of human-animal connections and to join a new cadre of future academic leaders in this field.



Our Values

  • The lives of animals and the lives of humans intersect in ways that are most often beneficial to both but can, at times, be detrimental to either or both. We are open to exploring both the benefits and risks of human-animal interactions.

  • The therapeutic use of animals for the improvement of human physical and mental health must ensure that animals are not harmed and are treated within ethical and humane guidelines.

  • Dissemination of information about the benefits and dangers inherent in human-animal interactions must be evidenced-based and responsible.

  • The quest for new knowledge about human-animal connections must address socially significant questions that reflect respect for cultural diversity and beneficial social change.

  • Human-animal connections occur at the individual level but also extend to natural physical environments and to relationships within the family, community, broader society and the global village. We endorse a framework of conservation social work that acknowledges these interrelations at multiple levels and encourages multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches.