Social Work Services

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) recognizes the unique and enduring bonds that form between people and their animals – animals who are family members, confidantes, partners, and best friends. When these bonds are tested by illness, behavior problems, injury, or death, it can feel overwhelming.

As an important part of the veterinary team, our social workers are here to care for "the other end of the leash" (or lead rope): You

Are you a social service provider or veterinary professional looking for professional consultation, training, or resources related to human-animal relationships? Please call us. We can help.

Athena Diesch-Chham, MSW, LICSW

Athena earned her master of social work degree from the University of Minnesota in 2011 and is currently licensed at the graduate level in the state of Minnesota. As an Intern in the University's Veterinary Social Services program, Athena learned from the founder of the program, discovering her calling and passion for veterinary social work. Athena continues to attend to the "heart work" of veterinary medicine that was started at the Veterinary Medical Center many years ago.

Athena has a wide range of professional interests, including crisis intervention and debriefing, group work, and family medical therapy. She delivers training on the topic of human-animal relationships to veterinary professionals, animal welfare organizations, and social service providers throughout Minnesota.

Additional Resources

Grief & Loss

End of Life Planning

End of Life Planning

Hospice and Home Euthanasia

Burial

If you are interested in home burial, please contact your municipality for burial regulations first. It is also critical to check for gas lines prior to digging a grave on your property (Gopher State One Call, 1-800-252-1166).

Animal Inn Pet Cemetery, Lake Elmo, MN 651-777-0255

Cremation

Animal Abuse & Family Violence

Animal Abuse & Family Violence

If you suspect that an animal is being abused or neglected, please call your local animal control officer. You may also call Animal Humane Society Humane Investigations at 763-489-2236.

If you are in danger, please call the Day One MN Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline at 
1-866-223-1111.

Local Resources

Articles

The Case of the Battered Pet