Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Grant to Study Children Reading to Classroom Pets
Washington, D.C. (August 19, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $13,000 grant to the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies for a new study, Listening EARS: How Does Reading to Rabbits Affect Reading Skills of Third Grade Students?, to uncover how reading aloud to a non-threatening presence, like a classroom rabbit, helps improve students’ reading skills.
“The human-animal bond can lessen the stress young children can feel when taking on challenging tasks in the classroom, like reading aloud,” said Dr. Annie Petersen, Ed.D., Principal Investigator in the Listening EARS study. “This study will provide us with a valuable tool to understand and act on the benefits of small animals to student learning and development.”
By utilizing small animals already present in classrooms (e.g. rabbits and guinea pigs), it is predicted that classroom interactions with an animal will improve 3rd grade students’ oral fluency and reading comprehension, two essential measures of academic success.
“HABRI is committed to studying the impact of companion animals on child health and development,” said Steve Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “This new research will contribute to the growing body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the benefits of pets in the classroom.”
Founded by sponsors Petco, the American Pet Products Association, and Zoetis, 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 www.habri.org.
About the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies
The Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies is a research-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization comprised of professionals in the fields of animal welfare, education, child development, and public health. The Association strives to explore the complex relationships between people and animals through scientific research. For more information, please visit http://www.animalbondstudies.org.
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 Effort Highlights Potential Impact of Pets on Social Isolation and Loneliness
Mars Petcare and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today gathered leaders in public health, research, psychology, gerontology, and veterinary medicine to advance scientific research, best practices, and practical solutions to facilitate the role of companion animals and human-animal interaction (HAI) in addressing the public health crisis of social isolation and loneliness in society. Health experts have described loneliness as reaching epidemic levels – affecting people of all generations from all walks of life.[i] And most importantly, social isolation has been shown to be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, making it a serious threat to public health.[ii] There is widespread agreement among both pet owners and non-owners that companion animals can play a role in addressing the societal challenge of loneliness and social isolation.[iii] Results from nationally-representative market research reinforce the social bond between humans and pets. Specifically, 80 percent of pet owners say their pet makes them feel less lonely. When it comes to both pet owners and non-pet-owners, 85 percent of respondents believe interaction with a companion animal can help reduce loneliness and 76 percent agree human-animal interactions can help address social isolation. Further, pet owners with the closest bond to their pet see the highest positive impact on their feelings of loneliness and social isolation.[iv] The market research also showed:[iii] Around one in four (26 percent) pet owners stated they got a pet because they know it is good for mental health – with respondents aged 55+ doing so more frequently (55 percent). 54 percent of respondents say their pet helps them connect with other people. Half of respondents (51 percent) say their pet helps them feel less shy. 9 in 10 people aged 55+ believe pets can help older adults feel less lonely. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those surveyed believe nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have...
New Scientific Study: Dogs Improve Social Skills for Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Green Chimneys announced the publication of a study exploring the effectiveness of an animal-assisted social skills intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Research was conducted at Green Chimneys, a therapeutic school and treatment center for children facing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Findings demonstrate that incorporating therapy dogs in social skills training is a valid approach to teaching children with ASD to engage with peers and improve social interaction. “Not only do dogs appear to have a positive effect on children’s emotional states, but they can also be motivating factors that encourage social interaction and involvement,” said Dr. Joanna Becker, PhD, Sam and Myra Ross Institute Research Associate and the study’s principal investigator. “Animal-assisted interventions are a valid approach for teaching children with autism spectrum disorders the skills necessary to engage with peers, family members, and the larger community.” Dr. Becker, along with co-PIs Dr. Erica Rogers and Dr. Bethany Burrows, analyzed 31 Green Chimneys students ages 8-14 diagnosed with ASD and compared social and emotional functioning before and after the intervention. Students either participated in an animal-assisted social skills group or in a traditional social skills training group without an animal present. Findings showed that the inclusion of dogs in social skills training was more effective than traditional programs. Specifically, participants who received the animal-assisted social skills intervention exhibited fewer social skills deficits overall, fewer restricted and repetitive behaviors, and more typical social communication following the intervention. The study also found that participants who received the animal-assisted social skills intervention exhibited a greater level of change in social skills, perspective taking, theory of mind, and decreased feelings of isolation...