The Human-Animal Bond describes the reciprocal relationship between humans and nonhumans that brings love, companionship, comfort, and emotional support, framing pets (companion animals) as family members requiring consideration in social work practice and policy. The Human-Animal Bond is especially strong in vulnerable people, such as women experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.
Despite recommendations in literature that companion animal-inclusive practices be incorporated into social work with vulnerable groups, there is, to date, no documented evidence of this occurring in Australian social work. Anecdotally, covert or subversive practices have emerged to support this population. My research has the potential to validate these practices by making them visible.
I adopt a Feminist Ethic of Care theoretical lens to frame and document companion animal-inclusive Subversive Social Work practices that honour the importance of the bond in interspecies families.