Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Announces Results of First Research Project
Washington, D.C. (September 21, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced the publication of a systematic literature review on Animal-Assisted Intervention (AAI) for trauma in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The findings demonstrated that the animals helped ease anxiety, reduce depression, and mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
This is the first published study of more than a dozen HABRI-funded research projects examining the effects of companion animals on human health. Marguerite E. O’Haire, PhD, of Purdue University, systematically collected and critically assessed current research from a variety of electronic databases, including HABRI Central, on AAI for trauma in order to more closely look at the empirical data that evaluates the practice of animal inclusion in psychological treatment. Participants in the studies were predominantly survivors of child abuse, followed by military veterans. The most common animals included in treatment were dogs and horses.
“We conclude that AAI may provide promise as a complementary treatment option for trauma, but that further research is essential to establish feasibility, efficacy and manualizable protocols,” said Dr. O’Haire.
The study researched current evidence that suggests animals may provide unique elements to address several PTSD symptoms. For example, people with PTSD often experience emotional numbing, yet the presence of an animal has been reported to elicit positive emotions and warmth. Animals have also been demonstrated as social facilitators that can connect people and reduce loneliness, which may assist individuals with PTSD break out of isolation and connect to the humans around them.
“Based on Dr. O’Haire’s work, HABRI has further evidence that AAI can positively affect depression, anxiety, social outcomes, sleep, child functioning and quality of life,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “With this important study as a roadmap, HABRI has committed funding for a study of the impact of service animals for post-September 11th war veterans and for a study on equine therapy for survivors of domestic violence.”
Founded by Petco, Zoetis, and the American Pet Products Association and supported by a growing number of organizations, 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.
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New Publications Highlight Impact of Companion Animals on Loneliness During the Pandemic
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare, with support from a broad Consortium of partners, today announced the publication of three papers in the open-access Journal Animals, part of a special issue focused on the role of companion animals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Isolation and the Roles That Animals Play in Supporting the Lives of Humans: Lessons for COVID19. The papers focus on the role of human-animal interaction (HAI) in helping to alleviate loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic. These papers were authored by working group members of the Consortium on Social Isolation and Companion Animals, established by HABRI and Mars Petcare in 2018. “These publications represent a critical aspect of our Consortium effort to explore the potential of companion animals to help address the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation, which has only grown more pressing since the pandemic began,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. “As these papers highlight, the human-animal bond has served as a key source of emotional and social support for so many over the last year-and-a-half, underscoring the importance of future research investigating this impact.” “Social isolation and loneliness are immense societal challenges, affecting people in many ways, which require different interventions and treatment approaches,” said Rena Crumplen, Global Vice-President of Research and Development, Mars Petcare. “These publications represent an important scientific milestone in bridging research and practice – helping bring evidence-based solutions to those affected by social isolation and making the case for multidisciplinary efforts to further the field of HAI more broadly.” The paper led by Dr. Dawn Carr, Department of Sociology, Florida State University analyzed longitudinal survey data obtained from a Florida community-based sample of adults aged 60+ in September 2018 and October 2020. Researchers set out to test the association...
School of Public Health Researchers Awarded Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Grant
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) will fund a new study conducted by Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Public Health researchers Drs. Alyce Fly, Ming Li, and Katharine Watson. The researchers aim to characterize the impact of pet ownership on the adult gut microbiota, which has been shown to influence the role of cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Fly, Li, and Watson hypothesize that differences in the gut microbiota of cat and dog owners relative to non-owners are associated with reduced CVD risk. “Studies have found that living with cats or dogs imparts health benefits associated with the gut microbiota of infants and children, such as a reduced risk of developing asthma and other immune-related diseases,” Principal Investigator Katharine Watson, MA BVMS, explains. “Studies have also shown that gut microbiota health is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, it is not known whether the gut microbiota of adult pet owners differs from non-owners. As pet ownership is associated with benefits to the gut microbiota of infants, it is probable that adults who live with pets may have similar benefits and that these may play a role in CVD risk reduction.” “HABRI is proud to support this novel research into the relationship between pet ownership, gut microbiota, and risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman notes. “Science tells us that pets can influence the physical and mental health of owners, and this project will explore an important aspect of the physiological underpinnings of the human-animal bond.” Drs. Alyce Fly and Ming Li will serve as co-investigators on the study which may help to determine whether living with a cat or dog is associated with a richer and more diverse adult gut microbiome and whether this, in turn, may mediate reduced prevalence of CVD. CVD is the leading cause of death and disability and the most common non-communicable disease...
Phillips Pet Food & Supplies Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation announced today that Phillips Pet Food & Supplies has joined the organization’s Steering Committee and made a $25,000 contribution to support research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “Phillips Pet Food & Supplies is proud to support the HABRI Foundation and its mission to study the healing power of pets,” said Blaine Phillips, CEO of Phillips Pet Food & Supplies. “We represent more than 375 vendors and 700 brands of quality pet products across the nation, and understand that the better we take care of our pets, the better they will take care of us.” “Phillips Pet Food & Supply is a leader in keeping pets happy and healthy,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By supporting HABRI, Phillips is demonstrating its dedication to the incredible bond pets share with their owners.” HABRI has assembled a growing body of scientific evidence that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase wellbeing; 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. “Phillips Pet Food & Supplies customers, the independent retailers, play a major role in strengthening the human-animal bond,” Phillips added. “We’re going to work together to develop and share even more information about how pets make people, families and communities happier and healthier.”