College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medical Center

Veterinary Social 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.

CVMVMC2 - Asset - VMC Social Work Group Photo 2014-2015
Pictured from left to right: Natalie Lieferman, Athena Diesch, Abby Foley

Athena Diesch, MSW, LGSW

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.

Karl Reichter, MSW Intern

Karl Reichter is in his second year pursuing his MSW degree from the University of Minnesota. Karl completed his undergraduate at Macalester College majoring in Psychology, minoring in Applied Math/Statistics, and was a four-year starter for the Fighting Scots football team. Karl’s work experience is predominantly focused on children’s mental health and family relationships.

Although Karl currently doesn’t own any pets, they are an important part of his life and the lives of all animal owners. He is thrilled to be interning at VMC to learn about inter-professional collaboration, the human-animal bond, and developing therapeutic relationships.

Kati Cremons, MSW Intern

Kati is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Social Work through the St. Catherine University / University of St. Thomas joint Social Work Program. Kati graduated from The University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Kati has experience working with the geriatric population, as a senior care case manager.

Kati’s lifelong love of animals and her curiosity about the human-animal bond has brought her to her internship at the VMC. She hopes to learn about group facilitation, factors affecting people making decisions regarding the health of their animals, and how to be an effective member of a social work team.


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  • Last modified on July 3, 2013