Treatment for people convicted of animal abuse or hoarding could soon expand in East Tennessee.
The University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Services program is offering two training sessions for area counselors this school year.
"AniCare is a program developed by the Animals and Society Institute. It's the first published protocol for the treatment of animal cruelty," said Dr. Elizabeth Strand, Director of UT Veterinary Social Work Services.
Licensed mental health professionals can learn to use the program on clients.
During counseling, animal abusers and hoarders undergo a mental evaluation. Their past childhood is explored, and more.
"I work with the person. First, being accountable for what they did. So, acknowledging they were cruel to an animal and facing that fact. Number two, building empathy. The lack of empathy is what allows a person to be violent towards and animal," Dr. Strand said.
More East Tennessee judges are prescribing AniCare counseling to people convicted of such abuse as part of their punishment.
Learn more about the upcoming Fall and Spring AniCare training sessions on AniCare's website. Further information about Dr. Strand and her department may be found on the UT Veterinary Social Work Services website.