Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Releases New Economic Study
Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced the findings of a new economic study on the healthcare cost savings associated with pet ownership. The economic analysis, conducted by two researchers from George Mason University, calculated an $11.7 billion savings in U.S. healthcare costs as a result of pet ownership.
“There was abundant research to show that pets have a positive effect on our health, but this is the first time that anyone has looked at the impact on the U.S. healthcare system,” said study co-author Terry L. Clower, PhD Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs and Director of its Center on Regional Analysis. “Our analysis shows that pet ownership produces meaningful savings for total health care costs in the United States.”
“Thinking about things that people should do to maintain their health, ‘get a pet’ belongs on that list,” said HABRI Executive Director, Steven Feldman. “When health insurance companies are looking at wellness incentives to keep costs down, pet ownership provides another way for people to stay healthy and save money.”
The largest savings was determined based on a lower incidence of physician office visits by pet owners as compared to non-owners. According to the study, 132.8 million pet owners in the United States visit a doctor 0.6 times less than the average non-pet owners. The average cost of a physician office visit is $139. Pet owners, in this way, were responsible for saving $11.37 billion in U.S. healthcare costs.
Additional savings were calculated for dog owners who walk their dog five or more times a week. This group, totaling more than 20 million people, shows a lower incidence of obesity, and were responsible for saving $419 million in related healthcare costs.
While additional health benefits associated with pet ownership have been documented by scientific research, the economists were unable to determine specific cost data associated with those findings. Researchers looked at scientific studies showing a positive impact from pet ownership on infection control, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cholesterol, allergies, stress, blood pressure and psychological issues, and concluded that further economic data was necessary before healthcare savings could be calculated. According to the report, “because this analysis is limited and conservative, the health care cost savings associated with pet ownership is likely to be even greater.”
“As HABRI continues to fund human-animal bond research, we will look for ways to measure specific economic variables that measure additional health care cost savings,” Clower added.
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.
More Press Releases
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.”
New Study to Examine Wellness Effects of Animals on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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...
New Research to Study Effects of Service Dogs on Post 9-11 War Veterans with PTSD
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $42,000 grant to Purdue University to lead a first-of-its-kind, controlled scientific study to measure the effects of service dogs on post 9-11 war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Participants in the K9s For Warriors program, a nonprofit organization pairing war veterans with service dogs, will take part in the study. “While numerous studies have confirmed that companion animals help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has cited a lack of specific scientific evidence on the effectiveness of service animals for war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “We are committed to addressing this gap in peer-reviewed science so that every veteran who needs a service animal can get one.” PTSD is a prevalent and debilitating disorder that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, affects nearly 20 percent of post 9-11 war veterans. Typically triggered by intense events and situations, symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. To explore the effect of service dogs on war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI, the Purdue-led study will monitor the health and wellness of the K9s For Warriors participants including medical, physiological, and self-perception indicators. It is hypothesized that the veterans who have service dogs will demonstrate better health and wellness compared to those receiving other treatment services while on the waitlist for a service dog. “While there are existing PTSD treatments available for veterans, a number of them have limited effectiveness and high drop-out rates,” said Marguerite O’Haire, PhD, Purdue University. “This controlled research study will document the impact of service dogs on veterans, which may provide an effective addition...