New Research to Explore Effects of Service Dogs on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Caregivers | HABRI

New Research to Explore Effects of Service Dogs on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Caregivers

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Grant to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Washington, D.C. (September 18, 2019) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has announced funding for a new research project led by the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine to evaluate the effects of service dogs on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their caregivers. The two-year grant from HABRI will enable the research team to conduct a study quantifying the therapeutic effects of service dogs on children with ASD and their caregivers in collaboration with service dog provider Canine Companions for Independence.

“While anecdotal evidence suggests service dogs may benefit children with ASD, there is a need for published data on this subject,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Marguerite O’Haire, PhD, Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction, who is part of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. “As the largest and most extensive study on service dogs for children with ASD and their caregivers to date, we expect the findings to provide critically-needed outcomes for this increasingly prevalent application of the human-animal bond.”

The study, called the Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study, or Purdue CARES, will compare up to 50 families engaging in usual care that have an ASD service dog with up to 50 families engaging in usual care while on the waitlist to receive a service dog. Participation will include caregivers completing a 30-60 minute online survey and facilitating three mornings of saliva collection with the child to measure cortisol, a stress hormone. O’Haire and Purdue co-investigators Kerri Rodriguez, Dr. Mandy Rispoli and Dr. Bridgette Kelleher along with Dr. Evan MacLean of the University of Arizona will conduct the study, which focuses on children diagnosed with autism who range from ages 4-17. The researchers will compare the symptoms of children who currently have service dogs in the home and those who are on a waiting list for a service dog. They also will assess participants’ cortisol levels, a biomarker involved in the stress response system, as well as reports of their sleep habits provided by their caregivers.  “These findings will be some of the first empirical data behind what now is largely only qualitative evidence, and will allow parents, psychologists, and providers to know what to expect from these placements,” said Rodriguez.

Study participants are being recruited from Canine Companions for Independence, one of the largest providers of assistance dogs in the United States. Service dogs provided by Canine Companions for Independence are purpose-bred Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden–Labrador crosses specifically trained for skills and tasks that help mitigate the child’s autism symptoms.

The study also will also evaluate the impact service dogs have on caregiver and family functioning through a caregiver report. “We are excited to take a family-wide approach to studying how an autism service dog integrates into the home,” Rodriguez said. “Specifically, our innovative study will not only measure the effects that a service dog may have on child functioning, but also the parents’ functioning and overall family dynamics.“

“HABRI is proud to have funded a number of now-published studies demonstrating the positive impact of the human-animal bond for children with autism and their families, from improving social skills and family functioning to decreasing caregiver stress,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “HABRI’s grant to Dr. O’Haire and her team at the Purdue University  College of Veterinary Medicine is unique from these other projects in that its focus is on the impact of service dogs, which unlike pets, are not only specially trained to perform tasks but also have special access to public places, enabling them to be with the child constantly. HABRI is thrilled to be supporting new, promising research investigating a different, yet important aspect of the human-animal bond for children with ASD and their families.”

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.

About The Center for the Human-Animal Bond

The Center for the Human-Animal Bond was established at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. The Center focuses on the dynamic interactions between people and animals and their psychological and physiological consequences. The research under this rubric addresses important and sometimes controversial issues at the intersection of science, public health and society. The goal of the research is to provide scientific data that can guide the making of policies and decisions that affect animals and people.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

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

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...

Press Releases
Virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill Brings People Together in Celebration of the Human-Animal Bond

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) brought the love of pets to Congress this week through a virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill. Featuring conversations with leaders in animal health, animal welfare, pet business, celebrity guests, Members of Congress, therapy animals, and some very cute pets, Pet Week focused on key data showing growing importance of pets in society and how policies supporting pet ownership and care have the potential to save lives, enhance wellbeing, and protect public health.   “Americans love their pets and support policies that strengthen pet ownership as a positive force for our health and wellbeing,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “The entire pet care community came together during virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill to share this message and the data behind the importance of the human-animal bond in American society.”  Pet Week on Capitol Hill addressed a wide array of timely issues including data-driven updates on animal shelters and pet adoption in the United States, the importance of pet ownership and pet care to the economy, and the positive impact of pet-friendly policies and legislation. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) discussed the importance of veterinarians during the pandemic and legislation aimed at protecting people and pets from zoonotic diseases and natural disasters.   “As the only veterinarian serving in Congress, I welcome opportunities like this to spread the word to pet owners, the public and my colleagues about the real, tangible benefits pets bring to our lives, and the importance of veterinary medicine in safeguarding public health,” said Representative Schrader. “It was also my honor to announce the winners of the AHI Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill Contest. Pet Week on Capitol Hill is a wonderful event that brings us together and lifts spirits at a time when everyone really needs it.”    A highlight of Pet Week on Capitol Hill, the...

Press Releases
Pet Partners Commits $100K 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 research on the health, education, and wellness outcomes of therapy animals, for both the people and animals involved. This announcement is a supplement to HABRI’s 2019 Request for Proposals, open now through February 7, 2019. “Pet Partners recognizes the importance of developing scientific findings that further demonstrate the benefits to health and well-being associated with the human-animal bond,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Together, Pet Partners and HABRI will expand our knowledge, allowing more people to experience the benefits of high-quality therapy animal programs.” In order to be eligible for this funding, investigators must incorporate registered Pet Partners volunteer therapy animal teams into their proposed research. As part of the organization’s registration process, all Pet Partners therapy animal teams must meet high standards in the areas of patient and public safety and outstanding animal welfare. “Pet Partners programs are the gold standard for animal-assisted interventions, which will lend themselves to greater consistency and accuracy for research purposes,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “We are grateful to Pet Partners for their leadership, generosity, and commitment to high standards.” 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 activity. 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 child health and development, healthy aging and mental and physical wellness. For more information on HABRI funding opportunities and the award application process, please visit...

HABRI