New HABRI Survey: Knowledge That Pets Improve Our Health Boosts Animal Welfare | HABRI

New HABRI Survey: Knowledge That Pets Improve Our Health Boosts Animal Welfare

The More Pet Owners Learn about Scientific Research on the Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond, the Better They’ll Care for Their Companion Animals

The More Pet Owners Learn about Scientific Research on the Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond, the Better They’ll Care for Their Companion Animals

Washington, D.C. (September 7, 2016) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced the findings of a new survey on the impact of knowledge of the scientific benefits of the human-animal bond on how pet owners care for their companion animals. The survey asked pet owners about their awareness of research that shows pets improve human health and found that this knowledge has the power to motivate them to take better care of their pets in important ways.

“Scientific research shows that pets are good for our health, improving heart health, relieving stress and positively impacting conditions from autism to PTSD,” said HABRI Executive Director, Steven Feldman. “Now, for the first time, we have data to show that it’s a two-way street – when we know how good pets are for us, we are more likely to take better care of them!”

According to the survey, seventy-one percent of pet owners were aware of scientifically-documented health benefits from pets. Most importantly, when asked how knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond would affect their actions:

  • 89% of pet owners said they were more likely to take better care of their pets
  • 75% of pet owners said they were more likely to microchip a pet to ensure it can be found if lost or stolen
  • 51% of pet owners said they were more likely to purchase pet health insurance
  • 62% of pet owners said they were less likely to skip visits to the veterinarian
  • 74% of pet owners said they were less likely to give up a pet for any reason
  • 88% of pet owners said they were more likely to provide their pets with high-quality nutrition
  • 92% of pet owners said they were more likely to maintain their pet’s health, including keeping up with vaccines and preventative medicine

The survey also examined how different generations of pet owners viewed and reacted to the human-animal bond. For millennials, in particular, learning about the scientific research on the health benefits of pets had a large impact:

  • 80% of millennials said this information makes them more likely to bring their pet along when they go out
  • 75% of millennials said this information makes them more likely to travel with their pets
  • 74% of millennials said this information makes them more likely to get an additional pet
  • 74% of millennials think employers should consider allowing employees to bring pets to work

“When pet owners are educated about the scientific research on the human-animal bond, the response is tremendously positive for the welfare of the pet population,” said researcher Michael Cohen, Ph.D. “This research tells me that veterinarians and animal shelters should be talking about the benefits of pets to human health.”

The survey also asked pet owners about increased support for pet ownership in society:

  • 84% agree health and life insurance companies should give discounts for owing a pet
  • 87% would be more likely to buy products from pet-friendly businesses
  • 69% agree the government should help make it more affordable to own a pet
  • 88% agree doctors and specialists should recommend pets to patients for healthier living

“As HABRI continues to fund human-animal bond research, it will work hard to educate pet owners and the general public about the positive impacts of pet ownership on human health,” Feldman added. “As more people experience the healing power of the human-animal bond, more and more pets can get the highest level of care and welfare.”

The online survey, conducted by the Cohen Research Group, included 2,000 interviews and had a margin of error of +2.2%.

About HABRI

The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds 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.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
New Research to Explore the Health Benefits of Cat Fostering for Older Adults

Funded by a two-year grant from the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), faculty from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Family and Consumer Science and the Obesity Initiative are collaborating on a new research project to examine the impact of pet companionship on mental and emotional health in older adults living alone. “Housing and health are essential to overall well-being, a fact known to pertain to both humans and animals”, said Heidi Ewen, assistant professor, Colleges of Public Health and Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia. “We have proposed a unique solution to help older adults living alone at home establish new social bonds, by pairing them with homeless foster cats.” Partnering with the Athens Area Humane Society and UGA’s Campus Cats organization, a rescue group that works with homeless cats on campus, the team will match foster parents and felines. The team is led by Heidi Ewen and Sherry Sanderson, a veterinarian and associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Beginning in October, the team will begin to identify older adults in the Athens Area that are willing to foster cats. The 34 pairs of cats and seniors will then be interviewed and assessed throughout the study to determine whether having a pet in the house leads to changes in their emotional well-being. Assessments include, loneliness, emotional well-being, and purpose of life scales as well as measures of attachment to, and comfort from, the foster cat. Findings are expected to demonstrate improvements in mental and behavioral health in foster parents including reduction in loneliness and depression, and that attachment to the companion animal will increase the duration of fostering or lead to adoption of the foster cat. “As efforts around the country have increased to reduce euthanasia rates of homeless pets, there is an increasing reliance upon foster homes to bridge the time between...

Press Releases
Study Finds Dogs De-Stress Families with Autistic Children

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation announced today the results of a long-term study to explore the effects of pet dogs on families with children with autism spectrum disorder, just published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. The findings of the study showed significantly improved family functioning of families with a dog compared to those without. The study also found a reduction in parent-child dysfunctional interactions among families that had a dog. “While there‭ ‬is‭ ‬growing‭ ‬evidence ‬that ‬animal-assisted‭ ‬therapy‭ ‬can aid in ‬the‭ ‬treatment‭ ‬of‭ children with ‬autism‭ ‬spectrum‭ ‬disorders, this study is one of the first to examine how‭ ‬pet‭ ‬dog‭ ‬ownership‭ ‬can also ‬improve‭ ‬the‭ ‬lives‭ ‬of‭ ‬those‭ ‬more widely affected‭ ‬by‭ ‬autism,” said the principal investigator ‬on the study, Professor Daniel Mills, BVSc, PhD, from the University of Lincoln, UK. “We found a significant,‭ ‬positive‭ ‬relationship‭ ‬between‭ ‬parenting‭ ‬stress‭ ‬of‭ ‬the child‭’‬s‭ ‬main‭ ‬caregiver‭ ‬and‭ ‬their‭ ‬attachment‭ ‬to‭ ‬the‭ family dog. This highlights the importance of the bond between the carer and their dog in the benefits they gain.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman said: “Parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress, and now we have strong scientific evidence to show that pets can have positive effects on these quality-of-life issues. Families with an autistic child should consider pet ownership as a way to improve family harmony.” This...

Press Releases
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...

HABRI