Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Winn Feline Foundation Award Grants to University of Missouri
Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2017) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $52,204 grant to the University of Missouri for a new study, Shelter Cat Adoption in Families of Children with Autism: Impact on Children’s Social Skills and Anxiety as well as Cat Stress. This study will examine the effect of the introduction of a shelter cat on social skills and anxiety in children with autism, and on stress levels for the cats themselves.
“Preliminary research demonstrates the effectiveness of companion animal interaction on alleviating social skills deficits and anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri. “While many studies have focused on the impact of dogs on children with ASD, this study aims to determine the beneficial impacts of a pet cat on children with autism and their families, as the temperament and the ease of care for cats compared to other animals may increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for the children, the cats and the family as a whole.”
In addition to HABRI’s grant award, the PIs have also received funding from the Winn Feline Foundation in the amount of $25,000. The combined funding from Winn Feline and HABRI have enabled the PIs to expand the sample size and add the support of a statistician, which will greatly enhance the power of the study and hopefully result in more definitive and robust findings.
“Winn Feline Foundation is thrilled to have initially supported this important study on the human-cat bond and to hear of HABRI’s grant award. Their additional support will strengthen the study’s findings”, commented Winn’s Executive Director Dr. Vicki Thayer. “This significant project evaluating the effects and benefits of adoption of cats by children and families with ASD fits our mission and values”.
Using a two-group, randomized, repeated measures design with a delayed treatment control group, this 18-month study will recruit participants through a Mid-western autism diagnostic and treatment center. Shelter cats from two local animal shelters will be screened for temperament and then enrolled. Dr. Carlisle, and co-PI Rebecca Johnson, PhD, Professor and Director, Research Center for Human Animal Interaction, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Co-Investigators Jessica Bibbo, PhD, Colleen Koch, DVM, Leslie Lyons, PhD, and Nancy Cheak-Zamora, PhD, will pre-screen the human participants and families will be randomized into the treatment or delayed treatment control groups. Cat stress will be measured through fecal cortisol. Caregivers will complete a 19-item demographic questionnaire and children’s social skills and ASD symptoms will be measured using several instruments. Families randomized into the treatment group will adopt a cat first while those in the control group will adopt a cat after 18 weeks. The investigators expect to find that children of families with an adopted shelter cat will have increased social skills, decreased anxiety and that they will become bonded with their cat. It is also expected that cats will adjust to their new homes without significant stress.
“This study has great potential to advance our knowledge of the benefits of the human-animal bond for children and families with ASD,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Caregivers and parents should select the pet that is best suited for their family and for the well-being of the animal – maybe that’s a cat.”
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) 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 HABRI, visit www.habri.org.
About The University of Missouri
The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Today, with an enrollment of more than 33,000 students, 13,000 full-time employees and 305,000 alumni, Mizzou is a $2.2 billion enterprise and an important investment for the state and nation.
About Winn Feline Foundation
Winn Feline Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1968 that supports studies to improve cat health. Since 1968, the Winn Feline Foundation has funded more than $6 million in health research for cats at more than 30 partner institutions world-wide. This funding is made possible through the support of dedicated donors and partners. Research supported by Winn Feline Foundation helps veterinarians to improve treatment of common feline health problems and prevent many diseases. For further information, go to www.winnfelinefoundation.org.
More Press Releases
Pet Partners Commits $100K in 2020 to Support Therapy Animal Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in animal-assisted interventions, will donate $100,000 to fund scientific research on the health, education, and wellness outcomes of therapy animals, for both the people and the animals involved. This marks the second year in a row that Pet Partners has contributed to HABRI’s research grant program, raising the total amount awarded to $200,000. “Pet Partners therapy animal teams play a vital healing role for so many people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and communities,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Funding HABRI research will help validate the work of these dedicated volunteers and their amazing animals with scientific data, while also delivering important information that will advance best practices in the field.” In order to be eligible for HABRI-Pet Partners funding, investigators must incorporate registered Pet Partners volunteer therapy animal teams into their proposed research. As part of the organization’s registration requirements, all Pet Partners therapy animal teams must meet high standards in the areas of patient and public safety and outstanding animal well-being. “We are grateful for our dynamic partnership with Pet Partners and for their sustained commitment to scientific research,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “Last year’s contribution funded two important research projects that we expect will produce meaningful results, and with this generous donation, we will work together to make an even bigger impact in 2020.” In addition to funding provided by Pet Partners, researchers can apply for other HABRI grants to investigate the health and wellness outcomes of pet ownership and animal-assisted activities. Proposals should have a strong theoretical framework and take an innovative approach to assess the effect of companion animals on humans within the categories of...
New Research to Investigate Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy for Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research project to determine the effects of an equine-assisted therapy (EAT) program on the lives of older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, How does 8 weeks of equine-assisted therapy affect older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?, led by researchers from the Texas Woman’s University School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, will compare bradykinesia severity and functional outcomes before and after 8 weeks of EAT in adults with PD, and characterize the resulting human-animal interaction “While research studies examining the physiological benefits of horseback riding have been conducted before, there is a lack of published research regarding the physical adaptations of EAT in adults with PD,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, B. Rhett Rigby, PhD, Texas Woman’s University. “We hope that the results of this study will further the efficacy of EAT as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance by healthcare practitioners.” Thirty men diagnosed with PD, aged 40 to 80 years, will be recruited and randomly assigned into two groups. Fifteen participants will complete eight weeks of EAT, and fifteen participants will complete a similar protocol on a horseback riding simulator. The EAT intervention will contain 17 total sessions across a period of eight weeks, and a licensed physical therapist will oversee and conduct all EAT sessions. A similar protocol will be in place for the simulated riding session. Preliminary data in the form of two pilot studies suggest that an improvement in postural sway and balance is present after both EAT and simulated riding in older adults with balance deficits. The study will seek to determine if these adaptions will lead to improvements with other hallmark features of PD pathophysiology, including bradykinesia, posture, balance, and gait. Researchers expect that individuals...
HABRI Named Among the Best Animal Therapy Non-Profits of 2017
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has been chosen as one of the best animal therapy non-profits of the year by Healthline.com, one of the largest and fastest growing health information sites on the web. “This honor boosts HABRI’s mission to establish the human-animal bond as an essential part of our health and wellness,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “It also serves as a seal-of-approval that shows HABRI is making a real difference for the health of both people and their pets.” According to Healthline.com, they put together their list with a focus on non-profits “actively working to educate, inspire, and support people while sharing the benefits of therapy animals,” and commended these organizations for being “dedicated to exploring and supporting the human-animal bond.” “It is tremendously gratifying to see HABRI’s work to fund human-animal bond scientific research recognized in this way,” Feldman added. “HABRI also extends its congratulations to the other non-profit organizations recognized by healthline.com for providing animal therapy programs and services to people in need.”