The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lollypop Farm: The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

Lisa made two presentations at Lollypop Farm’s conference in Rochester, NY on October 12, 2018. Her first presentation “Animal Abuse and the Community: How Professionals Can Work Together” focused on what professionals from a range of disciplines need to know about the relationship between animal maltreatment and other antisocial behavior. In her second presentation “Intervention Programs for Animal Crimes Offenders” she discussed the BARK program that she developed at the Animals and Society Institute. The 16-week program for misdemeanor animal maltreatment offenders is currently being piloted in Syracuse, NY and will launch in Rochester, NY in 2019.

Guest Post: Beyond Intuition

Guest blogger Elisa Kosarin of Twenty Hats shares her insight on successful strategies for interviewing prospective volunteers.

When you interview volunteers, trusting your gut leads to mixed results

True or False?

Our gut feelings about a volunteer are the best predictor of volunteer success.

Since I’m asking the question – and it’s a leading question – you’ve probably guessed the correct answer: FALSE.

Five years ago I would have answered ‘True’. The program where I have worked, Fairfax CASA, takes volunteer screening seriously. We expect candidates to complete a one hour orientation and two interviews before being considered for training, and then the staff discusses each candidate before making the weighty decision to accept or reject someone.

About those “gut feelings”

Despite all this rigor, our decisions often came down to our “gut feelings” about a candidate – even though our gut feelings were not paying off. We were having a tough time meeting our recruitment goals because so many trainees either dropped their cases or never even took one. This was a huge problem because our judges wanThumbs Up Downt to see a volunteer on every single case that enters the court.

The pressure to bring in qualified volunteers had a silver lining, because it forced us to take a good hard look at our recruitment and screening methods. And we were fortunate to receive help from a human resources specialist who taught us how to conduct behavior-based interviews.

A Better Way

The concept behind behavior-based interviewing is pretty simple: past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. You ask questions that require your applicants to give examples of the competencies you seek. If you need a volunteer who is reliable, you ask your prospect to describe situations where others could count on him to deliver. If a position requires good interpersonal skills, ask your candidate about a time she handled a disagreement with someone.

Questions usually begin one of two ways: “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” Then you assess how closely the candidate is able to answer the question. The response, or lack of an adequate response, speaks volumes about that person’s ability to handle a similar situation with confidence.

Shrinking the Gray Area

Fairfax CASA experienced some striking results from the shift to behavior-based interviewing. We shifted from a typical year with over a dozen non-engaged trainees to an average of two volunteers per year not taking a case. And the number of applicants falling into the “gray area”, when we are on the fence about someone, has become much smaller.

There are other factors that play into volunteer screening, like getting clear on the competencies you seek and spelling out expectations, but if I had to choose just one factor, I would pick interviewing. It’s one area where volunteer engagement still relies on the human resources best practices for excellence.

About Twenty Hats

Headshot - circleTwenty Hats is led by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years experience in marketing, development, and volunteer management. She is deeply familiar with the challenges faced by nonprofit staff who wish to improve their skills with little time and few resources.  She founded Twenty Hats to promote trainings that expand the skill base of her colleagues.

 

Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) 2017 Management Conference

Lisa was a featured speaker at the SAWA Management Conference in Long Beach, CA, where she presented “Planning for Success: Using Logic Models as a Road Map.” The session helped animal welfare professionals to work smarter and use evaluation as a tool for continuous improvement. She explained the importance of logic models and how they increase a program’s likelihood of success; discussed the ways in which logic models can support program planning, implementation and evaluation; and helped attendees to develop their own logic models for planned or current programs.

Humane Society of Huron Valley

Lisa presented “Animal Abuse and Interpersonal Violence,” a day-long workshop at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (3100 Cherry Hill Rd, Ann Arbor, MI). Attendees selected the morning session (9:30-11:30 am), focused on the connection between animal abuse, interpersonal violence, and antisocial behavior; and/or the afternoon session (12:30-3:30 pm), concentrating on what those who work with children need to know about exposure to animal abuse. More than 30 professionals attended both morning and afternoon sessions, and it was one of the most diverse groups that ever participated in an HSHV training event. Attendees included child protection workers, domestic violence advocates, criminal justice professionals, health care professionals, mental health clinicians, animal welfare advocates, and animal control officers. At the break we got to enjoy some puppy therapy:

Maryland Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association Conference

Lisa presented “Children & Animal Abuse: What You Need to Know to Effectively Advocate” at the annual Maryland CASA conference in Annapolis, MD. The session focused on children’s relationships with animals as both risk and protective factors. We discussed why it’s important to take childhood animal abuse seriously and its relationship to other risk factors, including abuse and neglect. Key factors to consider when assessing animal abuse and approaches to exploring a child’s relationship with animals were presented. The session concluded with a discussion of trauma-focused strategies for intervening with children who have engaged in or witnessed animal abuse. Case examples were used throughout to illustrate key points. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences and ask questions.

National Council on Pet Population and Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) Research Symposium

Lisa was invited to participate in the National Council on Pet Population (Council) and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) Research Symposium entitled “Solid, Stretched or Broken?: the Human-Animal Bond” where she presented “Shelter dogs and veterans: A comparison of two different program models.” 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. The 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.

Humane Society Academy

On June 22, 2016, Lisa presented her third webinar in the Animal Abuse and Children Series. During “Intervening with Children who Witnessed or Engaged in Animal Abuse” she described and discussed the range of intervention resources available for children who have witnessed, engaged in, or are at risk of engaging in animal abuse. These include psychological intervention using the AniCare Child approach and psycho-education programs such as the Children and Animals Together (CAT) Assessment and Treatment Program. She also discussed prevention programs for children who are at risk of engaging in animal abuse.

This webinar series is sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and has been approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Intervening with Children who Witnessed or Engaged in Animal Abuse” was recorded and can accessed free of charge.

Humane Society Academy

On May 25, 2016, Lisa presented the second webinar in a three-part series on Children and Animal Abuse. During “Assessing Children’s Relationships with Animals” Lisa focused on assessing children’s relationships (both positive and negative) with animals. She discussed what professionals should look for and the types of questions that might be asked about animal-related experiences. Using case examples, she discussed the importance of individualized assessment and reviewed factors to consider in assessment.

This webinar series was sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Assessing Children’s Relationships with Animals” was recorded and can be accessed free of charge.

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.

Humane Society Academy

On April 20, 2016, Lisa presented the first of three webinars on animal abuse and children in collaboration with the Humane Society Academy. During “Animal Abuse and Children: An Important Risk Factor” Lisa discussed the role companion animals play in children’s lives and the growing body of research on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of antisocial behavior. Using case studies, she explained why all professionals dealing with children should be aware of animal abuse as a risk factor for children. The webinar was sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and pre-approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Animal Abuse and Children: An Important Risk Factor” was recorded and can be accessed free of charge.

Animal Friends

Lisa presented a day-long workshop at Animal Friends in Pittsburgh, PA, for professionals from a range of disciplines who work with youth, including social workers, attorneys, probation officers, judges, school counselors, teachers, child care providers, mental health professionals, and community members.

The session began with a discussion of the role companion animals play in children’s lives. We discussed the growing body of research on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of antisocial behavior, focusing on animal abuse as an important risk factor in children. Participants learned about animal abuse as an early marker for conduct disorder and research that suggests animal abuse may be related to other adverse childhood experiences, including maltreatment. Using case studies and video vignettes, we explained why all professionals dealing with children should be aware of animal abuse as a risk factor, and discussed what professionals should look for and the types of questions that might be asked about animal-related experiences.

Time: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Location: Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Register

APA Annual Convention

On August 9, 2015 Lisa and colleagues presented a symposium on Human-Animal Interactions in Treating Veterans with PTSD at the 2015 American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 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. SBF is a year-long program in which veterans are matched with a shelter dog. Veterans live with their dogs and train them to perform various types of services designed to help ameliorate PTSD symptoms. In addition, SBF program graduates are asked to mentor new veterans entering the program. VALOR is an eight-week program in which groups of five veterans socialize and train shelter dogs that have been subjects in abuse and/or neglect court cases. Through their work with these dogs, the VALOR program is designed to help veterans gain a sense of self-efficacy, improve self-esteem, learn dog training skills that could be used to gain employment, and receive social support from other veterans. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the differences and similarities in the two program models and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs.

Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence

On June 22, 2015 Lisa was in Sylvania, Ohio providing a training at the School Therapy Dog Workshop being sponsored by Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence. As part of her work through the Animals and Society Institute, she discussed the importance of identifying and assessing children who have abused animals and may also be experiencing other types of trauma.

University of Michigan

Through her work with the Animals and Society Institute, on June 18, 2015 Lisa presented a session on the assessment and treatment of people who abuse animals as part of the University of Michigan’s mini-course on “Social Work and the Animal-Human Bond.”

20th International Summit & Training on Violence, Abuse & Trauma

Lisa will be presenting “Children, Animal Abuse and Trauma-focused Intervention: What You Need To Know” at the 20th International Summit & Training on Violence, Abuse & Trauma in San Diego, CA on August 25, 2015.

The Animal Conference: A Forum of Ideas, Impact and Inspiration

Lisa was invited by the Kirkpatrick Foundation of Oklahoma to speak at their first Animal Conference of Ideas, Impact, and Inspiration at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City on March 31, 2015. The Foundation’s vision for the conference is to allow those who are professionally or personally part of the animal well-being community to convene and discuss current topics and concerns in the field. Lisa discussed the importance of assessment of and intervention with youth who abuse animals.

Association of Professional Humane Educators (APHE) – National Humane Education Conference

Lisa presented “Planning for Success: Using Logic Models as a Road Map” at the APHE national conference on February 27 in Dallas, Texas.

Animal Assisted Intervention International Conference

Lisa presented three sessions at this conference held in Denver, Colorado on September 19 and 20, 2014. On September 19 she presented “Planning for Success: Using Logic Models in Animal Assisted Interventions.” On September 20 she presented two workshops on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of violent and antisocial behavior. She discussed AniCare, a psychological treatment approach designed specifically for people who mistreat animals.

Contact Us