Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Awards Grant to University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $40,000 grant to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus for a study titled Physiological Wellness Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital Program.
This study will examine the influence of animal-assisted activities on the mental health and wellness of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is hypothesized that children will demonstrate lower physiological arousal when in the presence of dogs.
“Anecdotal reports of animal-assisted activities have observed such benefits as decreased anxiety-related behaviors as well as increases in social interactions, language, and safety awareness [in children with ASD],” said Dr. Robin Gabriels, PsyD, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “But we are in need of more research on how canines specifically, can be helpful to this population. It is our hope that our pilot project will provide preliminary evidence to validate the observed benefits and increase understanding of the mechanisms underlying this positive effect.”
The two-year crossover study will examine participants during a standard 20-minute social skills group, with 10 minutes of free interaction in the presence of a dog and 10 minutes in the presence of engaging toys. Using specialized wristbands to measure physiological arousal, researchers will compare the levels conducted within the two sessions.
“With high-quality scientific research, HABRI can make animal-assisted therapy a valuable addition to the treatments available for people with autism spectrum disorder,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “There is a growing body of scientific evidence that companion animals are important to human health. This research will ultimately help bring the healing power of the human-animal bond to more people who need it.”
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; to date has funded more than half a million dollars in innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information about the HABRI Foundation, visit http://www.habri.org.
About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus combines state-of-the-art teaching, research and clinical facilities to prepare the region’s future health care professionals and help fuel its economy. CU Anschutz is the only comprehensive academic health sciences center in the state, with schools of medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine and public health, a college of nursing and a graduate school.
More Press Releases
New Study to Examine Social, Behavioral and Academic Effects of Pets in the Classroom
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) and the Pet Care Trust announced today they had awarded a combined $130,000 grant to American Humane, for a study titled, Pets in the Classroom (PIC): What are the Social, Behavioral, and Academic Effects of Classroom Pets for Children, 8-10 years? It is hypothesized that students with a classroom pet will experience increased social skills, improved academic competence and decreased competing problem behaviors compared to students who do not have a classroom pet. “Animals are common in today’s elementary school classrooms, and we are learning more and more about their positive impact on child well-being and development,” said principal investigator Dr. Amy McCullough, American Humane National Director of Research and Therapy. “This study will provide meaningful insight on the broad impact of child and animal relationships and help prepare schools and teachers with the responsibilities necessary to support the humane and effective incorporation of pets in classrooms and curricula.” The first phase of the PIC Study concluded in May 2015 and was supported by The Pet Care Trust, which operates the popular Pets in the Classroom grant program. The first phase consisted of surveying and interviewing teachers on their perspectives regarding the main benefits, challenges and uses of their classroom pets, which ranged from fish to guinea pigs, hamsters, bearded dragons, and others. This second phase of the study will examine approximately 650 students and parents, as well as 46 teachers from 23 U.S. third and fourth grade classrooms over the course of a nine-month school year. Students, teachers, and parents will complete questionnaires at three times throughout the study period to measure the social, behavioral, and academic effects of classroom pets and human-animal relationships on children. “The Pet Care Trust established the Pets in the Classroom educational grant program to provide children with an opportunity...
New Research Says Therapy Dogs Are OK!
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the publication of a study exploring the impacts of therapy dog sessions on the welfare of the dogs involved. Conducted by researchers at American Humane, findings of the study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased stress resulting from the therapy visits. Funded by HABRI and Zoetis, American Humane’s newly-released “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study,” is one of the largest human-animal bond studies focusing on the impact of animal-assisted interaction (AAI) on children with cancer and their parents, as well as the participating therapy dogs. “Results of this study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased behavioral or physiological stress, indicating that placing therapy dogs in this type of therapeutic setting does not cause undue stress to the animals,” said Amy McCullough, PhD and Principal Investigator, American Humane. “This research will help American Humane, HABRI and practitioners in the field to maintain the highest standards of animal welfare.” “This research project is important because now we have strong evidence that, with proper training and handling, the welfare of therapy animals in hospital settings is not adversely impacted,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “As more animals are deployed to help hospital patients, we can be confident that the dogs are OK!” Dr. McCullough, along with Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, MPH and Molly Jenkins, MSW of American Humane, supervised data collection on participating handler-dog teams at five children’s hospitals across the United States. The objective of the study in regard to participating canines was to determine the stress levels of therapy dogs during regular AAI sessions with pediatric oncology patients and their families. The research team videotaped each animal-assisted therapy session and coded the dogs’ behavior using an ethogram developed to capture affiliative and stress-related behaviors. The frequency...
Pet Food Institute Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that the Pet Food Institute (PFI) has made a $25,000 contribution to support research on the benefits of the human-animal bond for people and pets. “PFI is proud to support HABRI, whose important research on the health benefits of pet ownership advances our collective awareness about the significant role pets play in our lives,” said Cathleen Enright, PhD, President & CEO, Pet Food Institute. “As the voice for U.S. pet food and treat makers, PFI and our members understand and celebrate the special bond between humans and pets.” “For the nearly 150 million dogs and cats in the U.S., health and wellbeing starts with sound nutrition and safe food,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Research shows that healthy pets make healthy pet-owners, and HABRI is proud to have the support of PFI, an organization committed to supporting long and healthy lives for pets.” HABRI has assembled a growing body of scientific evidence showing that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond can be found at both ends of the leash. Findings from a recently-published HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that the more they know about the scientific research on the human-animal bond the more likely they are to take better care of their pets, including providing pets with higher-quality nutrition and keeping up with visits to the veterinarian. “Spreading awareness of the health benefits of pet ownership improves pet health and welfare,” Feldman added. “PFI and its member companies are great partners to share this message.” PFI, whose members make up 98 percent of all U.S. pet food...