Skip to content

Dr. Bethanie Poe

Veterinary Social Work Certificates Coordinator


Dr. Bethanie Poe first became involved with UT’s Veterinary Social Work program in 2006 as a Master of Social Work student.  She returned to the program as a PhD fellow in 2008.  During this time, she helped to develop the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program for concurrent and post-graduate students and in which she has continued to be an instructor.

Her interests include the link between human and animal violence, humane education, compassion fatigue, suicide prevention, animal assisted interventions, program evaluation, and policy practice.  She has experience working in child protection, with domestic violence victims and batterers’ intervention programs, as well as mental health and suicide prevention education.  Her most recent position has been as the Middle Tennessee Coordinator of Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT). Thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, she worked to bring animal assisted interventions into agencies that serve victims of violence, abuse, and neglect. 

Always an animal lover, Bethanie grew up with a variety of cats and dogs, and she began volunteering at her local animal shelter when she was a teenager.  She is currently the owner of two senior cats, Simon and Charlotte, both of whom she has had since they were kittens. 


December 9, 2016
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Social Work
Doctor of Philosophy
Dissertation defended August 2, 2016
Title: How Do People in Animal Welfare Fields Respond to Family
Violence Situations?
May 11, 2007
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Social Work
Master of Science in Social Work
Concentration: Management & Community Practice
May 7, 2005
Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Bachelor of Science, Magna cum Laude
Psychology, pre-graduate concentration
Minor: English

Professional Service

February 2021 to present Veterinary Social Work Certificate Programs Coordinator,
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 2018 to present Middle Tennessee Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee
(HABIT) Coordinator, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 2015 to February 2018 Program Specialist, promoted to Program Coordinator

June 1, 2017 Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic &
Sexual Violence, Nashville, TN

August 2010 to September 2015 Part Time Mental Health Instructor. Mental Health
Association of East Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

August 2008 to June 2015 Graduate Research Assistant. College of Social Work,
University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

December 2008 to July 2009 Child Protective Services Case Manager. Tennessee
Department of Children’s Services, Knox County, TN

August 2006-April 2007. MSSW Intern. Veterinary Social Work. University of
Tennessee, Knoxville

April 2006-August 2006. Milieu Relief Worker. Child and Family Tennessee
Family Crisis Center, Knoxville, TN

August 2005-April 2006. MSSW Intern. Child and Family Tennessee, Family Crisis
Center, Knoxville, TN

August 2002-May 2005 Resident Director, Summer Conference Director,
Resident Assistant. Middle Tennessee State University
Housing and Residential Life, Murfreesboro, TN

Awards and Recognitions

2017 University of Tennessee College of Social Work Grand Challenges

2011-2012 Mallicote Fellowship

2011 The Dr. Elizabeth B. Strand Veterinary Social Work Award

2007 Rhoda O’Meara Public Welfare Award


Peer Reviewed:
Vincent, A., McDonald, S., Poe, B., & Deisner, V., (2020). The Link between Interpersonal Violence and Animal Abuse. Society Register 3(3), p.83-101.

Strand, E.B., Poe, B, Yorke, J., Nimer, J., Allen, E., & Brown, G (accepted 2014; journal no longer available) “Veterinary social work: What is that?”. Journal of Interprofessional Healthcare.

Rocha, C, Poe, B., & Thomas, V. (2010). Political activities of social workers: Addressing perceived barriers to political participation. Social Work, 55(4), 317-325.Bethanie A. Poe, October 2020.

Additional publications:
Poe, B. A. (2021, April 15). Getting in the H.A.B.I.T: Bringing Animal Assisted Interventions to Victims of Crime. In L. Kogan & P. Erdman (Eds.), Career Paths in Human-Animal Interaction for Social and Behavioral Scientists (1st ed.). Routledge.

Poe, B. (2020, November 12). Veterinary social workers: Learn how this emerging specialty benefits veterinary teams and the human-animal relationship. Innovative Veterinary Care Journal.

Poe, B. (2017). Pets & Domestic Violence. In Sheltering with Care: Tennessee
Domestic Violence Shelter Best Practices Manual. This project was supported by Award No. 16558 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women.

Strand, E.B; Risley-Curtiss, C.; & Poe, B. (2016). The Animal-Human Bond. In Animal
Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding, 2nd edition. Carolina University Press.

Strand, E.B.; Poe, B.; Lyall, S.; Allen, E.; Nimer, J., Yorke, J.; Brown, G.; Nolan-Pratt, T. (2012) Veterinary social work: A specialized social work practice. In Fields of Social
Work Practice: A Foundation of Social Work. Wiley Publishing

Poe, B. (2012) Pets & domestic violence. In Four Paws Handbook for a Pet-Friendly
Community. Zanna, LLC for Young Williams Animal Center.

Poe, B. & Strand, E. (2007). Veterinary Social Work: State of the Program Report 2006. Report available from Veterinary Social Work, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

    The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.