Last updated August 30, 2020
NASW Press home
Shopping Cart | Site Map | NASW  
Browse Catalog
About NASW Press
Animal-Assisted Crisis Response

Animal-Assisted Crisis Response

Specialized Canine Intervention for Individuals Affected by Disasters and Crises

Yvonne M. Eaton-Stull

ISBN: 978-0-87101-554-9. 2020. Item #5549. 208 pages.

Paperback $38.99   ePub $35.10

Animals can be valuable allies in the aftermath of a natural disaster or human-made crisis. There is growing research that the presence of specially trained canines can help survivors and first responders recover both physically and mentally from traumatic events. Touching or being in the presence of a dog can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels; relieve anxiety; lessen isolation; amplify feelings of support and comfort; bolster motivation and morale; and improve expression and regulation of emotions. When survivors are alone, displaced, or separated from loved ones, dogs can connect them to helping professionals and networks of support.

Animal-assisted crisis response (AACR) is a unique and proven intervention following crises and disasters. AACR teams are specially skilled, trained, and evaluated handlers with therapy dogs deployed after myriad incidents, including natural disasters, school or other mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and suicides, and also in nonemergency programs such as grief camps for children and memorial services for community traumas.

Through detailed case studies written by certified crisis dog handlers, this book demonstrates how each AACR presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. The authors discuss the intersection of psychological first aid (PFA) and AACR, offering canine-based techniques that can be incorporated into PFA and all trauma-informed care.

Deployment best practices are discussed in detail from pre-deployment preparation, active deployment scenarios, and post-deployment evaluation, self-care, and stress management for both humans and canines. Crucially, this book recommends building effective partnerships with local, state, and national organizations and governments.

On television and in our private sessions, we are bombarded with news of crises and disasters that affect both survivors and responders. For social workers on the frontlines who would like to expand their crisis response skill set, this book provides foundational knowledge of AACR and the skills and traits of effective handlers and team leaders. For those already using AACR, this book is a necessary resource to ensure practitioner competence and to inform best practices.