New Handbook for Welcoming Pets at Nation’s Senior Centers | HABRI

New Handbook for Welcoming Pets at Nation’s Senior Centers

High Interest in Animal Programming Drives HABRI-NCOA Partnership

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.”

About HABRI

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.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

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Press Releases
New Study to Examine Social, Behavioral and Academic Effects of Pets in the Classroom

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...

Press Releases
IDEXX Supports Human-Animal Bond Research

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “IDEXX is proud to support HABRI and its mission to advance human-animal bond research,” said Jonathan Ayers, Chairman and CEO of IDEXX Laboratories. “IDEXX is committed to enhancing the health and well-being of pets and people alike by bringing to market the most advanced diagnostics and software in veterinary medicine. When we provide high quality care for pets, human health also benefits.” “IDEXX is an innovative leader in pet health,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By supporting HABRI, IDEXX is demonstrating its dedication to the human-animal bond and to keeping pets and people healthy together.” Scientific evidence increasingly shows 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 impact more than just human health. Findings from a recent HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets. From providing pets with higher quality nutrition to more frequent visits to the veterinarian, spreading awareness of the health benefits of pet ownership improves pet health and welfare.

Press Releases
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.”

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