Toronto Humane Society Receives $15,000 Grant from University of Toronto for Innovative Veterinary Social Work Program

| July 8, 2024

In a stride toward advancing the field of veterinary social work, Toronto Humane Society has been awarded a generous grant of $15,000 from the University of Toronto through the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund. The grant, spread over three years with $5,000 allocated annually, will support Toronto Humane Society’s efforts to establish, research, and develop an evidence-informed model of practicum instruction for social work students.  

The project was proposed by Dillon Dodson, Director of Social Work at Toronto Humane Society and marks a pivotal moment for the organization and the broader veterinary social work community in Canada. The innovative research initiative will not only influence the enhancement of veterinary social work practicums at Toronto Humane Society but also Canada’s broader veterinary social work community. 

Dillon, alongside Phil Nichols, CEO of Toronto Humane Society, had the privilege of meeting with Charmaine Williams, Dean, and Eileen McKee, Assistant Dean, from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, for a formal cheque presentation ceremony. Before the cameras clicked, they delved into a fruitful conversation about the nuances of veterinary social work and its potential impact on both human and animal welfare. Following the exchange of ideas, Dillon and Phil graciously escorted Dr. Williams and McKee on an insightful tour of Toronto Humane Society’s facility. 

A $15,000 Grant That Will Make a Profound Impact on Veterinary Social Work in Canada and Beyond

Toronto Humane Society’s funded proposal outlined a comprehensive plan to explore various facets of veterinary social work practicums, including animal-assisted interventions, support for pet guardians, community engagement and education, crisis response, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Its practicums will give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, develop essential skills, build professional networks, and contribute to the advancement of the field. 

The research project’s intent is multifaceted, aiming to understand the current landscape of veterinary social work practicums, develop orientation and support structures for students, engage students in the development of a practice-based model of field instruction, and ultimately inspire more practitioners to offer practicums. 

To achieve these goals, the project will undertake an environmental scan of social work practicums in animal settings across Canada and North America, interview field instructors, research best practices, conduct a literature review, and develop orientation materials and support resources for field instructors. 

This grant signifies the University of Toronto’s commitment to fostering innovative research and practice in social work and underscores Toronto Humane Society’s dedication to advancing the welfare of humans and animals.