High Interest in Animal Programming Drives HABRI-NCOA Partnership
Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2018) — (Washington, D.C.) June 6, 2018 The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) have teamed up develop a handbook focused on helping senior center administrators incorporate pet-friendly programming and policies into their facilities. The handbook, Older Adults and Animal Programming, provides an overview of the scientific research that demonstrates the benefits of human-animal interaction, and a path forward for senior centers looking to develop or expand animal programming.
HABRI and NISC first conducted a survey of senior center administrators from across the country to gauge interest in animal programming. A large majority of senior centers surveyed allowed animals in some way, with many senior centers expressing a strong desire for more pet-friendly programs and policies. Responses were received from 113 NISC-member senior center administrators from across America. Of the 28% of respondents that had a current therapy animal program, significant positive health benefits for participants were reported:
- Improved social interaction 71%
- Improved mental health 48%
- Increased physical activity 35%
“Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of the human-animal bond for healthy aging – from reducing blood pressure to encouraging social interaction to reducing stress and depression,” said HABRI Executive Director, Steven Feldman. “With this handbook and through our strategic partnership with NCOA and NISC, we can increase opportunities for seniors to experience the healing power of the human-animal bond.”
“Only 32% of the senior centers that responded to the survey reported having pet policies in place, so we feel the handbook is a timely and important opportunity to have conversations about the added value that pet programming can provide to the lives of seniors and staff alike,” said Maureen O’Leary, Program Manager for NISC. “We’re excited to provide this excellent resource, and we look forward to working with HABRI to disseminate best practices so even more senior centers become pet-friendly.”
The Older Adults and Animal Programming handbook features key recommendations for senior center administrators, and also addresses some of the informational needs discovered through the survey. Only about one-third of the survey respondents indicated that their staff was trained on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) service animal guidelines, and over half of respondents did not have existing policies in place pertaining to animal programming. The handbook provides guidance on ADA requirements pertaining to service animals, sample pet policies, and recommendations for animal programming policies and procedures.
“Senior centers know that animal companions – service animals and pets alike – are part of the family, and they are excited to expand their programming to support that bond,” added O’Leary. “With this handbook, we hope centers across the country will find what they need to get started.”
HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that 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, please visit www.habri.org.
More 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...
New Research to Study Therapy Dog Visits for Elderly ICU Patients
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $6,000 grant to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing for a pilot research study, Biobehavioral Effects of Therapy Dog Visitation in Elderly Intensive Care Unit Patients, to investigate how brief visits from therapy dogs can reduce stress in older intensive care unit (ICU) patients. “Elderly patients who are admitted to the intensive care unit are at risk for anxiety that negatively affects physical health,” said primary researcher Sandra Branson, PhD, MSN, RN, Assistant Professor at the UTHealth School of Nursing. “Limited evidence suggests the effectiveness of therapy dog visits in improving these biological responses. We’re hoping this study will help fill the gap and potentially translate into regular practice in ICUs.” Further exploring the effects of therapy dogs on stress in elderly ICU patients, the study aims to provide research-based evidence proving the efficacy of brief, 10-minute therapy dog visits in improving stress associated with being in an ICU. The 18-month study will observe two groups of 10 elderly participants in the ICU; one group will receive a 10-minute therapy dog visits at random and the other will receive usual care without the visits. Patients’ psychosocial, endocrine, and inflammatory responses will be measured immediately before and after the 10-minute care session and compared between the two groups. It is predicted that participants who receive the therapy dog visits will show greater reductions in the measured responses. The results of this study could yield therapy dog visits as a regular, low-risk and low-cost treatment intervention for patients in the ICU. “HABRI’s grant to UTHealth will help advance the science that demonstrates the benefits of companion animals for disease recovery and healthy aging,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The deployment of therapy...
Amazon Sponsors the Human Animal Bond Research Institute
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Amazon, a pet-friendly company and supplier of pet products, has become an official sponsor of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “Amazon’s support for HABRI and human-animal bond research demonstrates its commitment to the values of great pet care and the importance of pets in our lives,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Amazon helps make it easy for us to care for our pets and, in turn, our pets contribute to our health and wellness.” Amazon customers can explore popular pet products, enjoy pet care tips, and create a profile for their pet in order to receive personalized recommendations and coupons. In addition to offering customers a wide selection of pet food, treats, toys, tech and more, Amazon has been dog-friendly since Day 1 at its Seattle headquarters where employees share their workspace with as many as 6,000 pupazonians each day. Scientific evidence increasingly shows that pets improve humans’ heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and educational development; and contribute to healthy aging. New research also shows that pet-supportive workplaces boost employee attraction, engagement and retention. When employers support pet owners, employees are more likely to feel highly connected to their company’s mission, become more fully engaged with their work and are more willing to recommend their employer to others. Additionally, employees at pet friendly workplaces are 52% more likely to report a positive working relationship with their boss and 53% more likely to report a positive working relationship with their co-workers, compared to just 14% and 19% among those in non-pet friendly environments. “Science demonstrates that pet-inclusive work environments help boost morale and encourage a culture of healthy collaboration and teamwork,” Feldman added. “Amazon is a leading pet-friendly...