Join us for the 2024 SaskSPCA Gathering!

Making positive change takes knowledge sharing, partnerships, and community engagement. That’s why the 2024 SaskSPCA Gathering for Animal & Human Welfare has a mission to provide a space to connect, learn, and discover – and we want you to join us! The 2024 Gathering will provide both insightful information and networking opportunities at the beautiful Dakota Dunes Resort on Whitecap Dakota First Nation.

When: April 11th to 13th, 2024

Where: Dakota Dunes Resort

Who: The Gathering invites those involved in animal health and welfare and human health and welfare. This could include animal shelter staff and volunteers, veterinary medical professionals, law enforcement, social services, municipal representatives, health care professionals, students, interested members of the general public, and more!

Topics include:

  • Navigating challenging client communication
  • Dog health and population management in First Nations
  • Animal Welfare in research
  • Addressing the challenges of non-profit governance
  • Collaborative approaches in animal protection

New to the Gathering this year, each registration includes exclusive access to:

  • An Open House at the Saskatoon SPCA’s new animal shelter on April 11th
  • An evening social at the Dakota Dunes Resort on April 12th
  • Exhibitor displays for Gathering attendees on April 12th and 13th

Cultivating Wellness Gathering Registration Fees

2024 Gathering Early Bird Registration Fees (February 1-29, 2024)

2-Day Early Bird Registration $270
2-Day Friend & Student Early Bird Registration $220
1-Day Early Bird Registration $150
1-Day Friend & Student Early Bird Registration $120

Register by February 29th and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a one-night stay at Dakota Dunes Resort!

2024 Gathering Registration Fees (March 1-April 8, 2024)

2-Day Regular Registration $320
2-Day Friend & Student Registration $260
1-Day Regular Registration $175
1-Day Friend & Student Registration $145

Thursday, April 11th

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Shelter Open House at Saskatoon SPCA

Join us on April 11th from 5 to 7 pm as our friends at the Saskatoon SPCA welcome Gathering attendees to their new shelter for an open house.

Address: 2250 Hanselman Ave, Saskatoon, SK

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, April 12th

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Creating Connections: Networking Skills

Presenter: Jolene Watson, RVT, Professional Speaker

Do you easily connect with others? Do you have introverted tendencies? Jolene will provide an engaging and interactive session with a focus on increasing confidence in terms of quickly connecting with others at events, meetings, for community engagement, and conferences.

OBJECTIVES:

  1. Identify communication styles through personality insights to enhance engagement, assertiveness, and customer service skills. We will also cover extroversion and introversion in terms of how we gain energy and engage those around us in terms of business meetings and networking.
  2. Build confidence in networking with a focus on conversation starters, rapport building, elevator pitch, and effective listening (time will be allotted for practice).
  3. Adapt your behaviors to influence others through building an understanding of behavioral adaptation and neuroscience. Body language will also be discussed with a focus on increasing charisma.

 

About Jolene:

Jolene Watson of Clarity Coaching & Development is a Registered Veterinary Technologist, Executive Business Coach, Best-Selling Author, Emotions-Centered Coach, Myers-Briggs® Personality Expert, and Award-Winning Professional Speaker & Trainer. Her reputation as Canada’s Networking Expert is well-established. She is also a facilitator at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship, Saskatchewan Polytechnic (for the RVT program), and Leadership Saskatoon. She is passionate about professional development, psychology, helping others discover their intrinsic strengths, and most importantly, cats. Jolene is so proud to have recently won six prestigious ‘Saskatchewan Business Excellence’ awards focused on customer service, growth & expansion, and entrepreneurship.

 

 

 

Navigating Choppy Waters: Cultivating Effective Communication

Presenters: Erin Wasson, MSW, RSW, Dr. Jordan Woodsworth, Bsc., DVM, PhD, and Dr. Rebecca Mycock, DVM

Animal care professionals often encounter challenging client interactions that can impact animal care and overall professional performance. This session goes beyond theoretical concepts, providing actionable insights and hands-on learning experiences to empower attendees in managing these situations effectively. Participants will leave with a heightened ability to communicate with diverse clients, navigate challenging conversations, and foster positive relationships in their professional interactions.

Key topics covered are: Cultural Competency in Communication: Understanding the diverse cultural backgrounds of clients and their impact on communication. Developing cultural intelligence to enhance client relationships. Recognizing and addressing cultural biases to ensure inclusive and respectful communication.

Strategies and Steps for Managing Difficult Clients: Identifying common challenges in client communication and conflict resolution. Implementing effective communication strategies to diffuse tense situations. Providing clear and empathetic explanations to address client concerns. Establishing boundaries while maintaining professionalism and empathy.

Experiential Learning: Engaging participants in real-life scenarios Facilitating interactive discussions and case studies to encourage peer learning. Offering practical tools and resources for ongoing skill development.

 

About Erin:

Erin Wasson (BSW, MSW, RSW) is a registered social worker who has worked clinically in several areas, including mental health, addictions, crisis response, interpersonal violence, trauma, geriatrics, disability, and youth work. She has spent her career working with individuals, groups, and communities as an advocate, clinician, and educator. She works from an integrative approach to social work, which includes assessments and interventions from a community-care and trauma-integrated lens. These approaches help Erin, and the clients she works with, to explore the context of their experiences that lead to relational connection and disconnection within their lives.

In 2014, Erin implemented the Veterinary Social Work services at the University of Saskatchewan, Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), the first of its kind in Canada. She continues to work as the veterinary social worker at the WCVM, providing services to clients of the Veterinary Medical Centre; as well as resources to staff and faculty. Additionally, Erin has been active in the promotion of health and wellbeing with veterinarians and allied professions. This includes providing resources, support and educational seminars to professional associations, animal welfare agencies, and other groups who interact struggle with high pressure work environments and challenging case loads.

 

About Jordan:

Dr. Jordan Woodsworth is a small animal clinician who graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. In 2012, she returned to the WCVM to start the Wellness and Preventive Medicine program in the teaching hospital, and to spearhead the Northern Engagement and Community Outreach (NECO) program. In 2023 Jordan completed a PhD in community and population health which allowed her to engage in collaborative research with members of a northern Saskatchewan community she has served through the NECO program for almost a decade. Jordan’s primary role is now as Director of NECO, and she continues to explore new ways to bring awareness to animal health and welfare inequities in Canada with an ultimate goal to devise creative, community-led solutions to improving access to animal health and welfare services. Jordan continues to learn from colleagues and mentors about how to foster and develop anti-racist, anti-oppressive and anti-colonial environments within veterinary medicine and is playing a key role in development of WCVM’s anti-racism strategy. Outside of work, Jordan is married to her highschool sweetheart and is a mum to two amazing kids and a lovely dog. She loves being in her garden or at the lake, travelling with her family and friends, crafting, and cooking and eating amazing food.

 

About Rebecca:

Dr. Rebecca Mycock is a small animal veterinarian working in the City Park community in Saskatoon. After graduating from WCVM in 2018, she moved to Hollywood, Florida to pursue a 1 year rotating internship. Following completion of this internship she moved back to Saskatoon to work as an emergency veterinarian at the VMC for two years before settling into her current position as an associate at City Park Vet.

Rebecca is passionate about providing honest and compassionate care to her clients. She strives to create an inclusive environment for both her coworkers and clients that visit the clinic, especially by being a visible member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. She places a focus on maintaining work life balance, despite working in a busy clinical setting. Rebecca’s varied clinical experience has helped her to navigate a variety of client interactions and better understand how to handle some of the more difficult conversations encountered on a day to day basis.

 

 

Getting Out of the Silo

Presenters: Dr. Margaret Doyle, Sgt. Dennis Smithson, and Jill Gibson

Calgary has established one of the first multi-agency working groups to take an integrated approach to handling cases of animal cruelty. This cooperative approach allows for seamless investigation resulting in higher prosecution and conviction rates. Drawing on resources, technical capabilities and experience from a variety of law enforcement and investigative agencies we are better able to handle not only the cases themselves but to address and manage the collateral victims of these crimes. The link between animal crimes and other forms of community violence has been widely accepted so to continue to compartmentalize animal crimes and investigate and assist only those victims has been exposed as a narrow sighted approach. Our group takes a unique and integrated approach to animal investigations from an early stage ensuring cases are handled effectively and efficiently. This interactive discussion will allow our group to present our successes and failures and to answer questions from attendees on establishing a network of allied professionals getting us out of our silos.

 

About Margaret:

With a veterinary degree from the University College Dublin and a Masters from the University of Florida specializing in Veterinary Forensics Dr. Doyle established Canada’s first veterinary forensic consulting firm in 2010. She provides services from crime scene analysis and photography to live exams and necropsies. Having since been involved in large scale hoarding seizures, dog fighting investigations, and working with the medical examiners office on files involving human and animal victims. Her work has helped create case law and establish institutions that continue to evolve and elevate animal welfare in Canada. Dr. Doyle brings a veterinary voice to the Canadian Violence Link Coalition which aims to educate the public and inform legislation around one health initiatives directed to target family and community violence. She was recognized with a community policing award in 2017 for her work training front line officers, social workers, prosecutors, and veterinarians on the overlap between animal abuse and other forms of violence. In 2018 Dr. Doyle was the first person in Canada to be qualified in federal court to provide expert witness testimony in the field of veterinary forensics. She routinely attends court for both prosecution and defense to assist in their understanding of the veterinary aspects of animal involved cases. She was honored in 2022 to be inducted into the UCD Veterinary College Alumni Hall of Fame for her career achievements thus far.

 

About Dennis:

Sargent Dennis Smithson has been a front-line police officer in Alberta for 15 years. Initially as a rural RCMP officer then moving to Calgary Police where his roles have included work with the community resource office, frontline patrol, and patrol Sargent duties. On top of his regular duties Sargent Smithson works as a District Patrol Training Officer Coordinator monitoring and mentoring new trainees as they transition from class room training to their final phase of training in the community as Patrol Officers. Dennis was tasked within CPS with creating policy and SOP for officers investigating animal abuse. He has spear-headed training front line officers in appropriate responses to animal calls as well as lecturing veterinarians and social work professionals on the link between animal abuse and domestic and interpersonal violence. He is striving to forge strong relationships with stakeholder agencies and the veterinary community with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of police action on animal related crimes. Sargent Smithson recently received a Chief’s Award for Community Service for his work on the Animal Abuse and Violence Link portfolio. He is currently on the steering committee for the National Violence Link Coalition and has presented across Canada on the Violence Link and Animal Abuse investigation.

 

About Jill:

Jill graduated from Lethbridge College in 2007 with a Criminal Justice Policing diploma. After working in Municipal Enforcement for several years, she joined the Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations team as a field officer in 2011. Over the past 13 years, she has investigated thousands of animal cruelty files in Calgary, and has been a part of many precedent setting cases within the court system.  Jill is currently the Field Supervisor of the Protection and Investigations team, which consists of 4 field officers and is an internationally recognized animal protection program.  Outside of work, Jill is an avid hiker and camper, and enjoys fostering behaviourally challenging dogs.

 

 

 

The Roles of Animals in Long-Term Care

Presenter: Allison Fox, Sherbrooke Community Centre

Living beside animals can be a powerful tool in creating a sense of well-being, experiencing feelings of joy and creating loving companionship. As we age, our desire for these basic human needs does not subside. The presence of animals can help alleviate the feelings of loneliness, helplessness and boredom that can plague those living in long term care homes like Sherbrooke Community Centre.

By their very nature animals do not judge. They are not critical. They provide companionship and unconditional love. For those living with cognitive or physical challenges in a long term care setting, these qualities make animals a perfect companion.

We strive at Sherbrooke to create a rich and diverse habitat where children, animals and plants are a natural part of everyday life. The presence of animals can help reduce anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, and loneliness. Pets can improve mood, create a calming effect, and increase social interaction. Animals, with their innate love for all, regardless of age or ability, bring joy, spark laughter, and create spontaneity. Inviting pets into long term care is not without its challenges, but the benefits are immeasurable to the residents who call Sherbrooke home.

 

About Allison:

Alison Fox, BSc, BSc OT, has been an Occupational Therapist working at Sherbrooke Community Centre, a long term care home in Saskatoon, for over 20 years. Sherbrooke’s mission is to strive to create a human habitat for the Elders who call Sherbrooke home. This innovative vision reaches beyond the medical model to create well-being and a sense of belonging. Sherbrooke creates a rich and diverse habitat where children, plants, and animals are a natural part of everyday life. As an animal advocate, Sherbrooke’s philosophy of care matches perfectly with Alison’s personal values. She has been a foster, volunteer, and advocate with Street Cat Rescue since 2015, and a foster with the Saskatoon Parrot Rescue since 2022.

 

 

 

 

Welfare in Research: From Bats to Bison

Presenter: Dr. Rob Stevens, DVM

The care of animals in research is ever changing with the development of new guidelines, enrichment requirements, societal pressures, and the advancement of novel methods to reduce the use of animals in research. In addition, the human-animal bond that attracts individuals to the field of veterinary medicine, can be overshadowed by pressure to obtain results. Dr. Stevens will review the challenges facing human and animal welfare in a research setting, the evolution of the welfare standards and the novel ways we can address these.

 

About Rob:

Dr. Rob Stevens graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. He completed a Bachelors in Physiotherapy at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and immigrated to Canada in 2008. Dr. Stevens worked as a Physiotherapist on Vancouver Island before deciding to make the career switch to Veterinary Medicine. Upon completion of veterinary school, Dr. Stevens undertook a Ruminant Field Service internship at the USask Western College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to this clinical based internship, he performed research on estrus synchronization and fertility in ewes. Dr. Stevens then worked as a mixed animal practitioner in rural Northern B.C. before joining VIDO in June 2021 as a clinical veterinarian where he currently serves as the Program Manager for Veterinary Services.

 

 

 

Evening Social and Open Trade Show

Join us for a Friday night social and get to meet your fellow attendees! The trade show will also be open for those interested in checking out the vendor offerings.

Hours: 6PM-9PM

Saturday, April 13th

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Partnerships: The Foundation to Sustainable Animal Health and Population Management in First Nations

Presenters: Karen Whitecalf, Meagan Schmitz, and Monique Schultz from Canine Action Project

Canine Action Project is an Indigenous-led Canadian registered charity that partners with First Nations across Saskatchewan. In this presentation, CAP and a partner Nation representative will discuss how we work together towards a humane and sustainable approach to dog management. With a focus on building trusted relationships, the ability to assist and support with animal related concerns is greatly increased. Taking approaches of one welfare and decolonization, along with following trauma-informed care principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment, it is CAP’s goal to support each nation and its members to meet individual needs. The partnerships made encourage mutual knowledge sharing, respect and understanding. Working together with a One Health approach guided by the cultural and traditional insights of our partner Nations, presenters will discuss how CAP’s programs support access to options of veterinary care and animal welfare support.

 

About Karen:

Karen Whitecalf is a very proud indigenous woman from the Thunderchild First Nation but resides on the Sweetgrass First Nation. Karen has volunteered and fundraised for Canine Action Project for the past 7 years. Karen realizes the importance of the health and comfort of everyone’s pets. Controlling the dog population is just one of the benefits that Canine Action Project brings to the First Nations. She believes that Education is key for having a healthy dog nation for each of the communities. Karen is the proud owner of Cupcake who is a local celebrity in North Battleford, she was rescued from the Thunderchild First Nation and now is living the dream with Karen and her husband Tom ❤️.

 

 

 

About Meagan:

Meagan Schmitz is of Metis, French and Scottish ancestry, born and raised in north central Saskatchewan. She has over 12 years of experienec in the animal welfare industry, from humble beginnings at a pet boarding kennel, to an animal shelter, and today, working with First Nations to help humanely manage their dog populations. Meagan volunteered at her first onsite spay/neuter clinic with Canine Action Project in 2014 and is now the Vice President of the organization. Her favourite part about CAP is seeing pets that were spayed/neutered 5+ years ago and thriving in their communities with their families.

 

 

 

 

About Monique:

Monique Schultz is a proud Metis woman living in the Lloydminster area. She is the current president and Co-Founder of Canine Action Project. Her journey with animal welfare began in 2011 by volunteering with a local animal rescue group. Quite early on through discussions and experiences with other volunteers, as well as people from the communities they were helping, grew the passion to assist with animal welfare beginning FIRST with the people caring for the animals. She has always felt that building genuine connections and lasting relationships are at the heart of Canine Action Projects programs.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Work in Animal Care Spaces

Presenter: Dillon Dodson, RSW, MSW

Veterinary social work, or social workers embedded in animal care spaces, is still relatively new in Canada. As there continues to be growing recognition of the importance of the human-animal bond, the importance of caring for those who provide medical/behavioural care for animals, and the importance of keeping pets with their people, there is also a growing need to increase expertise and comfortability as to how to operationalize these objectives. Social workers possess a unique skill set that enables them to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics, provide support to pet families, and advocate for systemic change. Participants attending this presentation will become familiar with the industry of veterinary social work, the varying applications, and how it can benefit a variety of spaces including but not limited to Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, animal hospitals, and animal shelters/welfare.

 

About Dillon:

Dillon joined Toronto Humane Society in early 2020 to head up the expansion of the Urgent Care respite foster program. Drawing on over a decade of experience working as a professional social worker, primarily working in human shelters and supporting survivors of gender-based violence, Dillon utilized her expertise supporting those who have experienced systemic oppression to inform the development of programming to support bonded families.

From childhood, Dillon has always believed in the power of animal healing and has worked to align her professional skills with a foundational desire to be with animals. From advocating for animal-assisted sessions for trauma survivors to providing equine-facilitated therapy, Dillon seeks opportunities to bring unity between animals and people.

In January 2023, Dillon joined Toronto Humane Society fulltime as senior manager of social work and embarked on certification in veterinary social work. In the same year, she was elected to the Board of Directors for the International Association of Veterinary Social Workers, appointed adjunct lecturer at University of Toronto and received Ontario Association of Social Workers 2023 Local Distinguished Social Worker Award. Dillon was most recently promoted in January 2024 to Director of Social Work programming at Toronto Humane Society.

Addressing the Challenges of Non-Profit Governance: Going from Good to Great

Presenter: Wendy Plandowski, BA, CMC

There are so many challenges facing non profits across Canada, it has left organizations reeling from the consequences of the pandemic, the fatigue of staff and volunteers, and ensuring that organizations are following best practices in risk management and essentially serving their mission to the best of their ability. In this presentation, I will address the challenges that many are facing, and provide attendees with tangible and inspiring takeaways that can help to steer them towards mitigating risk, attracting support, and inspiring stakeholders. Helping fantastic champions who support animal and human welfare focus on the really important matters at hand, rather than getting caught in the weeds of governance. Essentially, creating a road map to travel from good to great!

 

About Wendy:

Wendy Plandowski is a small business owner and avid volunteer residing in the Lloydminster, Alberta / Saskatchewan region. She is an unbridled enthusiast for non profit governance and consults with a number of organizations across Alberta and Saskatchewan in strategic planning, leadership and volunteering. She dedicated ten years of her career to post secondary education, then non profit healthcare philanthropy and most recently as the Executive Director for Startup Lloydminster. She enjoys seeing organizations she has worked with go from good to great by discovering innovative strategies to live their mission, vision and values. Wendy works with a number of organizations to train operations and boards in a variety of topics and is excited to be the 2024 Saskatchewan Summer Games Co-Chair coming up in Lloydminster.

 

 

 

Lessons Learned: Keeping People and their Pets Together, Healthy, and Happy

Presenters: Dr. Dayle Borchardt, DVM, Connie Varnhagen, RVT, PhD, and Eric Anderson, BA, BEd, BJ

Join moderator Eric Anderson for a panel discussion with Saskatoon’s Regional Director of Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO), Dr. Dayle Borchardt, DVM, and the President of Alberta Helping Animals Society (AHAS), Connie Varnhagen, RVT, PhD, as they share lessons learned in their work to increase access to veterinary care for vulnerable populations and the complexities of the human-animal bond.

CVO is a national charity which aims to improve the health of homeless individuals and their pets by offering human health services alongside preventative veterinary care and leverage the human-animal bond to increase access to human health resources.

AHAS provides advice, advocacy, support, and no cost veterinary services to support the human-animal bond between vulnerable people living in Edmonton and their companion animals.

Examples and experiences shared will provide valuable insights into increasing access to care for those with low incomes, struggling with addictions, mental health issues, experiencing homelessness, or other life challenges.

 

About Dayle:

Dr. Dayle Borchardt is a veterinarian and Regional Director of Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) in Saskatoon. CVO is a national charity which aims to improve the health of homeless individuals and their pets by offering human health services alongside preventative veterinary care and leverage the human-animal bond to increase access to human health resources.

 

 

 

 

 

About Connie:

Connie is the President of Alberta Helping Animals Society (AHAS), a charity devoted to supporting the human-animal bond between vulnerable people living in Edmonton and their companion animals. AHAS provides advice, advocacy, support, and no cost veterinary services. We grew from a home-based wellness service to providing full services veterinary care to the dogs and cats of people living with a very low income. Connie is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta where she helped develop and taught Research on the Human-Animal Bond in the Companion and Performance Animal Health Sciences major. Her students’ research has contributed greatly to AHAS and to other access to care initiatives. Connie’s dual roles as a leader in a charitable organization and an academic reflect her holistic approach to addressing societal needs by combining hands-on advocacy with academic rigor.

 

 

About Eric:

Eric Anderson’s professional career has revolved around the art of communication and storytelling. He was a high school English and History teacher in rural Saskatchewan for two years before switching to a career in journalism. For nearly eight years, Eric worked as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This background has allowed Eric to fit in nicely at Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon as its Communications Leader.

Eric also hosts a popular local podcast called YXE Underground. It features interviews with people who are making a difference in their community but are flying under the radar. The podcast has partnered with CBC and CTV to bring his stories to a wider audience. YXE Underground has become a passion project for Eric and he’s thrilled the podcast has found an enthusiastic audience.

 

 

Increasing Engagement of Foster Homes and Volunteers at a Time of Disengagement

Presenters: Sandra Archibald and Keeley Sopel from New Hope Dog Rescue

This session will provide information of the steps taken by New Hope Dog Rescue during 2023 to increase engagement with existing and new foster homes and volunteers. This session will be presented by New Hope Dog Rescue’s Executive Director, Sandra Archibald, and Fund and Event Coordinator, Keeley Sopel. The objective of this presentation is to share the steps New Hope has taken in 2023 to increase foster home and volunteer engagement at a time when there was a struggle to intake dogs as well as having a large number of people signed up to either foster or volunteer but not responding to requests for help. We will provide tools and operations that we found to be helpful as well as those that did not bring us the return on investment we were looking for. Our session will include: baseline of our numbers in January 2023 vs numbers in December 2023, the effects these numbers had on intakes, and events held to increase adoption.

 

About Sandra:

Sandra Archibald has spent the last 20 years working in customer service based industries while also volunteering. As someone who started volunteering at the age of 12 years, Sandra was able to see the impact that giving part of her day/week to an organization impacted others and that set in motion a desire to give back to the communities she has been a part of ever since. In 2018 Sandra and her husband started to volunteer and foster with New Hope Dog Rescue after losing one of their senior dogs. This is truly where Sandra’s heart lays and when the opportunity to take a position with New Hope as the Executive Director, Sandra knew that this was the opportunity for her to do her heart’s work.

 

 

 

About Keeley:

Keeley Sopel is a community motivated & people-minded individual who has set her heart on helping advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. She knew that the role of Fundraising & Event Coordinator for New Hope Dog Rescue is where her heart belonged, coming from a childhood where dogs were always present and having a tight-knit family. In her day-to-day life she focuses on inter community relationships and growing and maintaining bonds with those who are not sure how or where they can help out in the animal welfare world.

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of the Human-Animal Bond for Veteran-Service Dog Teams from a One-Welfare Perspective

Presenters: Dr. Linzi Williamson, PhD, CE, and Veteran Megan Podiluk

Service dogs and their handlers can share a unique bond as they navigate everyday life together. Research from the www.PAWSitiveConnectionsLab.com indicates that the human-animal bond (HAB) is especially apparent between Veterans diagnosed with PTSD and their service dogs. The HAB can be described as a mutually beneficial and positive relationship established between a human and an animal, and the welfare of each is equally considered. A strong HAB is endemic to a One-Welfare approach, which suggests that animal, human and environmental welfare are interconnected. For example, the Veteran is responsible for caring for their service dog (e.g., going on walks, grooming). In turn, the service dog allows the Veteran to feel safe in public places, facilitates social connection on walks, and provides support within the Veteran’s daily life activities. The HAB is also important to effective service dog training as it facilitates establishment of close understanding between the Veteran and their service dog. This is critical for navigating public spaces safely and confidently as it allows both the Veteran and their service dog to recognize each other’s needs within various contexts. Additionally, service dogs have the capacity to bond with family members within the Veteran’s household, and families often contribute to caring for the service dog and maintaining their well-being. The service dog in turn helps care for the Veteran which alleviates caregiving burdens for the family. This presentation will highlight findings around the HAB and one-welfare from these areas of research and establish that service dogs are not merely medical tools to aid their handler, but are sentient beings with whom Veterans share a strong and meaningful bond. This will include perspectives from Veterans themselves.

 

About Linzi:

As an PhD-trained researcher, Credentialed Evaluator (CE), and now Assistant Professor, Dr. Linzi Williamson has 12+ years of leading and collaborating on university- and community-based projects in physical and psychological health domains, primarily within a patient-oriented research framework. She and her colleagues in the Pawsitive Connections Lab (PCL) are dedicated to exploring animal-human interactions and helping people improve their relationships with animals.

 

 

 

 

About Megan:

Bio to come

 

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