It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Leonardo da Vinci

Animal Assisted Intervention International Conference

On May 15, 2016, Lisa was in Prague, Czech Republic, conducting two workshops at the Animal Assisted Intervention International Conference. During “Pairing veterans and shelter dogs: A comparison of two different program models” Lisa discussed the fact that the number of animal-assisted programs that pair veterans with shelter dogs is growing. Yet there is great variability in program models and little information on effectiveness. Program goals vary and may include helping veterans to re-enter civilian life, develop job skills, reduce PTSD symptoms, and gain social support. Lisa’s presentation outlined the findings from evaluations of two different types of programs that pair veterans and shelter dogs: Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) and VALOR. Differences and similarities in the two program models were discussed, and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs were presented. Lessons learned and considerations for implementing similar programs were discussed.

During “Got Outcomes?” Lisa emphasized that the success of animal-assisted programs depends on providers’ ability to clearly articulate program elements, implement programs as designed, and track outcomes to ensure the program delivers intended results. Participants learned how to use a variety of tools (logic models, fidelity assessments, performance indicators) to develop, implement, and assess programs. Lisa used program scenarios to help participants practice building logic models and selecting performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs. She also discussed the importance of measuring program fidelity and provided real-world examples of ways to assess whether programs are being delivered as intended.

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