Human Animal Bond Research Initiative and Pet Care Trust Award Grant to American Humane
Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2016) — 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 to interact with pets,” said Steve King, Executive Director of the Pet Care Trust and President of the Pet Industry Distributors Association. “Anecdotally, we know that incorporating pets in the classroom teaches life lessons of empathy and responsibility and helps shape students’ lives for years to come. This study will further advance the scientific data behind the benefits of the program to help it expand its reach so that more and more children can experience the benefits of the human-animal bond.”
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; to date has funded more than $750,000 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 habri.org.
About The Pet Care Trust
Incorporated in 1990, The Pet Care Trust is a non-profit, charitable, public foundation whose mission is to help promote public understanding of the joys and benefits of pets through education, support, and interaction, and to enhance knowledge about companion animals through research and education. To learn more about the Trust, visit www.petsintheclassroom.org/about.
About American Humane
Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals. Our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and humans. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.
More Press Releases
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 Study to Examine Benefits of Pets for Older Americans
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $43,000 grant to the University of Missouri for a new study to explore how companion animals effect social engagement and psychological well-being in adults ages 55+. The primary objective of the study is to examine the influence of companion animal ownership on the social engagement (social contacts and organizational participation) and psychological well being (life satisfaction and depression) of adults. It aims to discover if companion animal owners have better social engagement and well-being than those who do not during mid- (55-64 years) and later (65+) adulthood, in addition to exploring the differences between the two age groups. “We are excited to be able to look at how having a cat or dog impacts social engagement and mental health for middle-aged and older adults,” said Dr. Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP, lead investigator and professor at the University of Missouri. “We believe that people who have a dog or cat will be less socially isolated, have lower depression, and higher life satisfaction compared to non-pet owners.” The research team will analyze data from a recent national study, the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and utilize a novel approach in looking at those individuals who participated in an experimental human-animal interaction portion of the survey to provide a robust contribution to information on how companion animals can impact this demographic. The project is expected to be complete in one year. “With 75 million baby boomers entering mid and later adulthood it is vital that we understand how everything, including pets, can improve their lives,” said HABRI Executive Director Steve Feldman. “With the results of this study in hand, potential pet owners will have new information about the benefits of bringing a pet into their lives, and health care providers could more frequently consider prescribing pets for older Americans in their care.”
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...