Based on DU Study Ahead By a Cold, Wet Nose by John Davidson, The Denver Post, April 10, 2010:
The executive director of the institute, Frank Ascione, has been looking into “the link between violent behavior to humans and violence to animals. Ascione was part of a study that "documented cases of violent husbands harming family pets to torment abused wives.” He testified awhile back in Colorado in behalf of a bill to include pets in domestic restraining orders.
As part of the people/pet study, students in DUs Graduate School of Social Work also "documented the positive impact of using therapy animals to teach responsibility and anger control to at risk children.” Although these connections may be obvious, the science behind them is novel and important according to the dean of the Graduate School of Social Work, James Herbert Williams.
The support of the American Humane Association and the Animal Assistance Foundation is credited by Williams for the Institute success, but all of these Denver organizations have brought so much to the table.
“Institute staffers are working on two new efforts: enlisting experts from around the world of fellows and then posting their studies at Humananimalconnection.com, and conducting a painstaking study of public and social institutions in Colorado to come up with a better understanding of how animal abuse cases are handled.” It is called the Colorado Link Project, and they are trying to individually target social welfare, law enforcement and the judicial system.
Researchers will look at animal cruelty cases to determine 'how they are investigated, what control the investigator has, what does and doesn’t get investigated, how they are prosecuted and what penalties are handed down,' in order to improve practices in each step.
Graduate students can work with kids in a program, Pawsitive Connection, that teaches them how to train dogs while learning compassion and responsibility for animals.