Social work for all species: Dual consideration of social work ethics and the human-animal bond
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The lives of social work clients can be greatly enhanced by relationships with non-human animals. This paper presents the viewpoint that recognition of the beneficial nature of the human-animal bond and support for clients who seek animal companionship is not only within the scope of ethical social work practice, but also an essential competency in contemporary social work practice. Using the six social work values of the Code of Ethics (service, social justice, importance of relationships, dignity and worth, integrity, and competence) to frame the discussion, the paper presents examples of each value in action as it applies to animal assisted interventions and to clients’ relationships with their own pets. The authors introduce several real-world clinical examples supporting this viewpoint. Overall, the paper makes recommendations to social workers on how to practice ethically with regard to non-human animals and discusses steps to be taken within the field to promote these practices.