Section on Human Animal Interaction: Research & Practice – December 2015

A Profile: Dr. Mary Lou Randour


On the occasion of Mary Lou Randour’s stepping back from the Governing Body of the Section on Human-Animal Interaction after an exceptional length of service, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on her outstanding contributions to our Section and to the field.


Phyllis ErdmanI first met Mary Lou around 2006 or 2007, when I myself was fresh out of graduate school and determined that both the human services and animal protection fields should better understand the connections between animal cruelty and other forms of violence. Marching up to the director of a large national animal organization at a speaking event, stump speech in hand, netted me an introduction to Mary Lou—who was already blazing trails in this area. She quickly put me to work helping organize our newly forming Section, ensuring we had the necessary paperwork in place to become official at the Chicago meeting in spring 2008. “Human-animal interaction” was still a foreign term in APA (and in the field as a whole) back then, but she never tired of discussing the growing body of research on the complex relationships between humans and animals, even to head-scratching psychologists who countered, “But isn’t psychology about people?” Happily, our Section found a wonderful home within SCP: an inclusive group of colleagues whose natural person-in-environment orientation facilitated an understanding of how animals often play key roles in humans’ social contexts.


Since that time, I have continued to be inspired by Mary Lou as a leader within both our Section and the field. Her work has contributed to great advances in clinicians’ competence in the assessment and treatment of animal abuse, and to the intersection between animal abuse and family violence across the lifespan. Perhaps even more importantly, her influence has carried across to other fields such as criminal justice: Mary Lou’s ability to translate “psychology stuff” into information meaningful to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies was instrumental in the FBI’s recent decision to begin tracking animal cruelty statistics at the national level for the first time.


Amid all these activities, Mary Lou carried on serving on our Section’s Governing Body for seven years. Yes, we had term limits, but when no one else could be persuaded to do the heavy lifting in a nascent Section, you could count on Mary Lou to step up for another term—and to hold the rest of us accountable! The momentum of our Section today is testimony to the infrastructure she so tirelessly helped us build.


Although Mary Lou is finally taking a rest from Governing Body duties and is in process of relocating to sunny Florida, she is far from retired and continues to play an active role both within HAI and the field. I just wanted to capitalize on this opportunity to share with the rest of SCP the incredible contributions she has made. Thank you, Mary Lou!

– Phyllis Erdman, PhD

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