New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dog-Assisted Forensic Interviews with Children | HABRI

New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dog-Assisted Forensic Interviews with Children

Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Partners Award Grant to University of Toledo

Washington, D.C. (November 13, 2019) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners announced today a grant to the University of Toledo for a new study, Implementation of Canine-Assisted Forensic Interviews with Children. This lab-based study will examine the effect of the presence of a therapy dog on the quantity and quality of children’s event reports.

“From countless anecdotal evidence, we know that a visit from a registered Pet Partners therapy dog can put a smile on a child’s face, no matter what they are going through,” said Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Scientific research to validate the efficacy of therapy dogs in forensic interviewing has the potential to not only provide more children with much needed comfort and emotional support, but to also promote justice for such a vulnerable population.”

“The overarching goal of the study is to provide evidence-based guidelines regarding how and when to incorporate therapy dogs in legal settings,” said the study’s principal investigator, Kamala London, PhD, University of Toledo. “We expect that this study will help support therapy dog-assisted forensic interviews as a safe, affordable, and widely available technique that may improve the accuracy and quality of event reports among maltreated children.”

Only about 15% of all child maltreatment cases come to the attention of authorities. Among cases that do come forward, children may be reluctant to disclose traumatic experiences, particularly when those experiences involve family member perpetrators. Over the past decade, forensic and legal professionals have begun to incorporate dogs into their practices in an effort to build rapport and trust, and foster a warm, supportive environment for children. Despite the increase in practice, the effects of therapy dog-assisted forensic interviews have not been studied. This study will work to address this identified gap in human-animal interaction (HAI) research. 120 children age 6-9 will experience a rich, interactive, staged event. A week later, the children will undergo an analogue forensic interview, where exposure to Pet Partners therapy dogs will be randomly varied. Interviews will be transcribed and coded for accuracy and completeness. Using video recording, behavior during the interaction with the therapy dog, including the duration of time the child spent petting the dog, will be scored. Principal Investigator Kamala London, PhD and co-investigator Janet Hoy-Gerlach, LISW-S, PhD, expect the therapy dog-assisted interviews to bolster children’s event reports, leading to increases in both quantity and quality of children’s reports.

“This study will build upon current knowledge of the benefits of therapy dogs while looking at a unique setting, forensic interviewing, which has not yet been studied,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “HABRI is grateful for the support of Pet Partners for this project, which has great potential to make a difference for children who have experienced maltreatment or abuse.”

About Pet Partners

Pet Partners is the national leader in demonstrating and promoting the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted interventions. Since the organization’s inception in 1977, the science proving these benefits has become indisputable. With more than 13,000 registered teams making more than 3 million visits annually, Pet Partners serves as the nation’s most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams. Pet Partners teams visit with patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students, veterans with PTSD, and those approaching end of life, improving human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. With the recent release of its Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Interventions and international expansion, Pet Partners is globally recognized as the industry gold standard. For more information on Pet Partners, visit www.petpartners.org.

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

###

Press Releases
School of Public Health Researchers Awarded Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Grant

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) will fund a new study conducted by Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Public Health researchers Drs. Alyce Fly, Ming Li, and Katharine Watson. The researchers aim to characterize the impact of pet ownership on the adult gut microbiota, which has been shown to influence the role of cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Fly, Li, and Watson hypothesize that differences in the gut microbiota of cat and dog owners relative to non-owners are associated with reduced CVD risk. “Studies have found that living with cats or dogs imparts health benefits associated with the gut microbiota of infants and children, such as a reduced risk of developing asthma and other immune-related diseases,” Principal Investigator Katharine Watson, MA BVMS, explains. “Studies have also shown that gut microbiota health is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, it is not known whether the gut microbiota of adult pet owners differs from non-owners. As pet ownership is associated with benefits to the gut microbiota of infants, it is probable that adults who live with pets may have similar benefits and that these may play a role in CVD risk reduction.” “HABRI is proud to support this novel research into the relationship between pet ownership, gut microbiota, and risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman notes. “Science tells us that pets can influence the physical and mental health of owners, and this project will explore an important aspect of the physiological underpinnings of the human-animal bond.” Drs. Alyce Fly and Ming Li will serve as co-investigators on the study which may help to determine whether living with a cat or dog is associated with a richer and more diverse adult gut microbiome and whether this, in turn, may mediate reduced prevalence of CVD. CVD is the leading cause of death and disability and the most common non-communicable disease...

Press Releases
Easing Restrictions on Pets in Rental Housing Could Help 8.75 Million Pets Find Homes Over Time

Non-profit organizations Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced the launch of the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets in every home. As part of the initial phase, the organizations today released the results of the most comprehensive survey research to-date on pets and rental housing in the United States. The research shows that, while the majority of rental housing allows pets, significant restrictions present hurdles for pet-owning renters. The research also shows that there are major opportunities for property owners and operators who can ease such restrictions. “Michelson Found Animals and HABRI had a clear goal with this research: to provide actionable insights that can help make it easier for renters to have pets in their lives,” said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director, Michelson Found Animals. “More pet-inclusive rentals could lead to millions more adoptions for renters who want pets.” Steven Feldman, HABRI executive director, added: “The health and wellness benefits of pet ownership are well documented. Both renters and property managers understand how great pets are, and when restrictions are lifted, everyone can enjoy the full benefits of the human-animal bond.” One third of pet owners in restricted pet-friendly housing said they would get another pet if restrictions were lifted, and 35% of non-pet-owners in non-pet-friendly housing would get a pet if restrictions were lifted. With changes that would allow more pets to be accommodated, as many as 8.75 million animals could find new homes over time.   24% of renters with pets said that “my pet has been a reason for me needing to move,” which means as many as 6 million people have experienced a move related to pet ownership at some point in their lives. 83% of property managers say that pet-friendly vacancies can be filled faster. 79%...

Press Releases
New Research to Evaluate the Effects of Station Dogs on Mental Health of First Responders

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners today announced funding for a new study to evaluate how resident facility dogs in police stations, also known as “Station Dogs”, may impact officers’ job-related well-being and mental health. This funding was awarded to a team of researchers at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine led by Dr. Kerri Rodriguez. “Pet Partners is proud to fund this research to evaluate the impacts of trained facility dogs within police stations,” said C. Annie Peters, President & CEO of Pet Partners. “Our nation’s hard-working first responders deserve every form of mental health support, and this research will show how the positive effects of the human-animal bond can be part of that equation.” “Previous research has found that facility dogs can reduce stress and provide emotional support for both staff and clients in schools, hospitals, and courthouses- but their effectiveness in police stations has been minimally studied,” explained Dr. Kerri Rodriguez, principal investigator for the project. “Our research hopes to describe how facility dogs may be similarly beneficial for promoting wellness within law enforcement.” This study proposes to evaluate the impact of facility dogs, a type of therapy dog trained to provide daily comfort and support in a facility setting, as a workplace intervention in law enforcement stations. Researchers will use a cross-sectional study design to measure self-reported outcomes among an estimated 300 law enforcement officers across stations currently placed with a facility dog or on the waitlist to receive one. “Station Dogs” will be trained and placed free of cost by the non-profit organization K9s For Warriors, which has already placed over 40 Station Dogs in police and fire stations across the US. Researchers hypothesize that the presence of a facility dog will be significantly associated with better self-reported outcomes among first responders...

HABRI