People from all backgrounds enjoy the companionship and mental health benefits of animals, but people who are placed-at-risk—those experiencing poverty or systemic discrimination, who are often at a higher risk of dealing with past traumas—can face barriers in caring for their pets. This new report discusses opportunities in the animal services sector to address these barriers, ensure equitable services for all people and animals, and prevent worker burnout and compassion fatigue.
The report, entitled Helping people and animals together: Taking a trauma-informed, culturally safe approach towards assisting placed-at-risk people with addressing animal neglect, is developed by and for animal service workers. It centers the stories of people who would be affected by recommendations: people who have experienced a surrender or seizure of their animal, animal service workers, and workers in other sectors who can offer partnerships and perspectives from their own trauma-informed work. Interviews with these three groups highlight current inequities in the sector and opportunities for change.
To implement facets of trauma-informed practices, organizations can:
To update the practices and processes of addressing animal neglect to ensure cultural awareness, sensitivity, and safety, organizations can:
To implement facets of outreach-first and prevention-based models, organizations can:
To address compassion fatigue & burnout in staff, organizations can:
This report has been made possible by funding from the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture through their Canadian Agricultural Partnership initiative. We thank them for their support of this project. The views expressed in this report do not reflect the views of the funders.
We would also like to thank the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada and the Vancouver Foundation for supporting this project as a whole, particularly in its next steps, which will be an online training course informed by the findings of this report.