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The Link Between Human & Animal Violence

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This module is available for purchase year round. This module is a part of the Veterinary Social Work Certificate. Though it is a part of the certificate, you can purchase and complete this course even if you are not enrolled.

Online Module

This self-paced online module is directed towards social workers and other mental health professionals. This program provides the participant with an in-depth overview of the Link including historical background, modern research, and suggestions for micro and macro level interventions.  You will learn from three experts in their field—Dr. Maya Gupta, Jenny Edwards, and Dr. Bethanie Poe. This seven-section module contains readings from peer reviewed journals, narrated presentations from the speakers as well as tests for comprehension. 

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction and Overview
  • Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse
  • Children and Animal Abuse
  • Older Adults and Animal Abuse
  • Animal Fighting and Associated Issues
  • Animal Sexual Abuse
  • Cross Reporting

“This program is pending approval by the National Association of Social Workers  for 12.25 continuing education contact hours.”

To earn the CE credit, participants must complete the evaluation the becomes available once the module is finished. After the evaluation has been submitted, the certificate will automatically become available on the learning site.


Dr. Maya Gupta

Maya Gupta earned her BA from Columbia University and both her master’s degree and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia, where her research focused on applying information about the connections between animal cruelty and domestic violence to enhance batterer typologies and to improve the prediction and prevention of violence in all its forms. She has written and trained widely on programmatic innovations such as “safe havens for pets” that assist domestic violence victims in bringing their animals with them to safety. Until December 2013 she was Executive Director of Ahimsa House, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence across Georgia reach safety together. She is now Executive Director of the Animals and Society Institute, which explores the connections between people and animals through supporting research on human-animal interactions, training human service professionals on the assessment and treatment of animal abuse, and promoting the integration of scientific knowledge into evidence-based public policy on animal-related issues. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the National Link Coalition, focusing on the animal abuse/interpersonal violence link, on the Animal Cruelty Advisory Council of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and as adjunct faculty in the Anthrozoology program at Canisius College. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She co-chaired the Organizing Committee for the Section on Human-Animal Interaction in the American Psychological Association, previously served as the section’s Chair, and currently serves as its Training Director. In 2012, she received the Task Force Member of the Year award from the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. She and her husband live north of Atlanta, GA, with seven rescued cats and six rescued chickens.

Jenny EdwardsJenny Edwards

Jenny Edwards is a criminologist and researcher specializing in issues related to bestiality and zoophilia.  Edwards frequently guest lectures for university and college criminal justice and human-animal studies programs, and has developed training programs for the University of Tennessee, Washington Criminal Justice Training Center, the University of Missouri Law Enforcement Training Institute, and multiple statewide animal control associations.  She regularly consults on cases with law enforcement and prosecutors, assists in development and passage of laws to prohibit animal sexual abuse and exploitation, and provides specialized training for professionals in law, veterinary medicine, mental health, and social work. 

Edwards has been honored for her work on high-profile bestiality cases, and appeared in the film Zoo, documenting the death of a Seattle man after a sexual encounter with a horse.  She has contributed to criminology, psychology, and medical books and publications, and has authored numerous articles on animal cruelty investigation and prosecution.  Her 2019 publication in the Journal of the American Association of Psychiatry and Law shares results of an in-depth study of 456 adjudicated cases of animal sex abuse throughout the United States.  Current research projects include a co-authored study of extreme animal sex crimes, an examination of how courts in the U.S. and the U.K. differ in their handling of animal pornography, and an article on bestiality as a negative form of human-animal interaction accepted for publication Fall, 2021 in Social Sciences, an international peer-reviewed journal. 

Edwards is a member of the American Association of Psychiatry and Law, the American Psychology-Law Society, and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Dr. Bethanie Poe

Dr. Bethanie A. Poe, LMSW is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work’s PhD program. She was a Fellow in UT’s Veterinary Social Work program where she helped to develop the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program for concurrent and post-graduate students, and she has been an instructor in the program since its inception.  Her dissertation work focused on cross-reporting between human and animal welfare professionals. She began her work in family violence almost fifteen years ago, working first in a domestic violence shelter, then moving on to child protection, then working with batterers’ intervention programs across the state of Tennessee. Dr. Poe is currently the Middle Tennessee Coordinator for UT’s Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T) program and the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Programs Coordinator.  

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