Leadership Team


Shannon Kopp is an Eating Disorder Recovery Center National Recovery Advocate and the best-selling author of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Womans Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life, published by HarperCollins. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Pacific University, and has written for CNNMaria ShriverThe Huffington Post, and PEOPLE Magazine. Her story has been featured on NPR, CNN Turning Points with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Women’s Health, Psychology Today, and more. She is a member of the HarperCollins Speakers Bureau and regularly speaks on eating disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Shannon has volunteered in animal welfare for more than ten years. After shelter dogs helped to transform Shannon’s life, playing a vital role in her recovery from bulimia and depression, she founded SoulPaws. Shannon shares an authentic and powerful message of recovery, while also demonstrating how animals can serve as guides to compassion, mindfulness, and emotional vulnerability.


AnnieDr. Annie Petersen is the Founder and President of the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies. She was previously the Education Manager for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and has worked in the fields of education, early childhood development and animal welfare for over 30 years.
As President and CEO of the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies, Dr. Petersen is responsible for program development, curriculum writing, grant writing and research. Her duties include coordination of Critter Companions and Peace in Pairs programming, research development, and seeking out partnerships with other nonprofit organizations. She has also presented to people of many nationalities and most recently presented her findings from the study, The effects of experiences with animals on the reading comprehension skills of students in the seventh grade, at the University of Vienna, Austria.
Prior to her work with the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies, Dr. Petersen was the Education Manager for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, developing and implementing new education programs for the community of San Diego. She has held faculty positions in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, has worked in the education departments of San Diego Zoo Global and the San Diego Museum of Man, and was the Assistant Director for College Center Montessori School in San Diego, CA.



Dr. Patricia Flaherty Fischette received her Ph.D. in Social Work from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in April, 2017.  Her dissertation research was a qualitative study exploring the experience of Animal-Assisted Therapies (AAT) among women who used AAT in their eating disorder treatment. She was the recipient of the Rivitz Award Fellowship, the only competitive endowed fellowship awarded to the student with the best dissertation proposal by the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.  She is a LCSW and has worked as a Clinical Social Worker for five years in the counseling/psychological services of a small liberal-arts college. In her clinical work, she has worked with hundreds of individuals struggling with eating disorders. In addition to eating disorders, she has worked with individuals with a range of vulnerabilities, and has extensive clinical experience with sexual trauma and interpersonal violence. Her current research interests are further exploration of AAT with eating disorder treatment and the experience of pet ownership among individuals who self-identify as living in recovery from an eating disorder(s).  She currently resides in PA with her husband, son, and two rescue pugs, Cinderella and Gus.

Our Partners


Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies 

Located in San Diego county, the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies Explores the Connectedness between People and Animals. The Association conducts educational research into the effects that experiences with animals may have on people in varying environments. This may includes victims of assault as they testify in court, students in learning environments and patients in healthcare environments.  We conduct programs with animals that impact human learning, as well as physical and mental wellbeing through our Critter Companions humane education classes and our Animal-Assisted Therapy Peace in Pairs program.


San Diego Humane Society 

Serving San Diego County since 1880, San Diego Humane Society operates campuses in San Diego, Escondido, and Oceanside.

They provide vital services to animals and people by sheltering and adopting animals, providing positive reinforcement training classes, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, presenting education programs for youth and adults, and much more.

San Diego Humane Society receives no government funding and is supported solely by contributions, grants, bequests, investments, proceeds from our retail store, and small fees for services.