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The relationship between humans and animals—from pets to food—will be explored during the International Veterinary Social Work Summit April 11 through 13 at UT.

All health and welfare professionals who treat humans or animals are invited to the summit. The College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Social Work are sponsoring the event.

Session topics will include grief and bereavement, animal-assisted therapies, humane animal handling practices, the link between violence to animals and violence to people, compassion fatigue management, and ethical dilemmas in social work and animals.

Registration for the summit is $325 and the deadline is April 1. One session, featuring the two keynote speakers, Temple Grandin and Hal Herzog, will be free and open to the public.

On April 11, Grandin, author of the New York Times best-seller Animals in Translation, and Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, will speak at the Knoxville Convention Center. They will hold a book signing at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 7:00 p.m. talk. They each will speak for forty-five minutes and then answer questions in a panel format for a half hour.

“It is important to understand the human-animal relationship and how broad it is,” said Elizabeth Strand, a UT professor and veterinary social worker who is helping to organize the event. “Most people have animals in their homes, and moreover, how animals are treated causes people to have strong opinions.”

Strand noted that social workers more and more are working with people who are bonded to animals or have behavioral issues relating to animals such as abuse, and they need to know how to counsel both types of clients.

The summit will include pre- and post-conferences. The pre-conferences, on April 9 and 10, will provide certification on animal abuse counseling or animal-related bereavement. The cost is $250 each. The post-conferences, April 14 through 16, will focus on animal-assisted therapies or the National Acupuncture Detoxification Protocol Association, which uses ear acupuncture for treating behavioral health including addictions, mental health, and emotional trauma. The cost is $325 and $400, respectively.

For more information about the summit or to register, visit the conference website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,