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.
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
Nature’s Variety Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Nature’s Variety®, makers of natural, wholesome and delicious pet food has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research into the health benefits of the human-animal bond. “At Nature’s Variety, we believe in the power of pure, real nutrition to keep beloved pets healthy and happy. The human-animal bond is so central to our mission to give pets everything they need for a long and happy life with us,” said Reed Howlett, CEO of Nature’s Variety. “Supporting research into the human health benefits of pets is a perfect complement to our mission. We support better health for people and pets 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. Specifically, when educated about the scientific research on the health benefits of pets, 88% of pet owners are more likely to provide their pets with high quality nutrition. “HABRI is thrilled to add Nature’s Variety as a HABRI supporter,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By joining forces with HABRI, Nature’s Variety is demonstrating its leadership in the pet care community!” “From HABRI research, we know that healthy pets transform the lives of people through the human-animal bond – and Nature’s Variety transforms the lives of pets by empowering pet owners to provide their pets with natural nutrition,” added Howlett. “While HABRI does...
New Scientific Results: Asking Patients About Pets Enhances Patient Communication and Care
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), The University of Toronto, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan announced the publication of a study exploring whether Primary Healthcare Professionals asking their patients about the pets in the family would positively impact communication to gather clinically relevant information and improve patient care. “Results of our survey show that asking about pets in the family is an easy and effective way to build trust with a patient, strengthening the patient-provider therapeutic alliance,” said Kate Hodgson, DVM, MHSc, CCMEP, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. “When healthcare providers learn about the pets in patients’ lives, they are also developing an understanding about specific aspects of their patients’ environment and social history that can improve the delivery of healthcare.” “Having an exam-room conversation about companion animals helps healthcare providers learn important information about patients’ lifestyle and home life which can positively influence the way they evaluate and treat their patients,” said Alan Monavvari, MD, Chief of Family Medicine, MHSc, CCFP, CHE, CPHQ, at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Dr. Hodgson and Dr. Monavvari, along with co-authors Marcia Darling, BSc and Dr. Douglas Freeman, DVM, PhD, DipACT, analyzed results of a baseline and follow-up survey of 225 healthcare professionals asking about prevalence of patients living with pets, the health impact of pets, and influences on patient communication. Results revealed that patients are more open to talking to their healthcare providers about their pets, revealing clinically relevant information about how they live. Baseline and final surveys measured awareness of pets in patients’ families, assessment of determinants of health, impact on rapport with patients, and patient care. A sign test assessed difference in scores using repeated-measures...
Dave’s Pet Food Supports HABRI
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Dave’s Pet Food, a leader in high-quality and affordable nutritious food for dogs and cats, has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “In addition to our mission at Dave’s Pet Food to provide pet owners with the food they need to keep their pets health and happy, we’re proud to be supporting HABRI’s efforts to fund scientific research on the health benefits of pets,” said Dave Ratner, Founder of Dave’s Pet Food. “The need to provide pets with healthy, high-quality food is an essential part of strengthening the human-animal bond.” “Supporting HABRI helps to raise awareness of the health benefits of the human-animal bond, which we know motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “HABRI is grateful for the support from Dave and Dave’s Pet Food and looks forward to working together to help pet owners take the best possible care of their pets.” Increasingly, scientific evidence reports that pets can boost heart health, alleviate depression, improve well-being, support child health and development, and contribute to healthy aging. Additionally, 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. HABRI survey research demonstrates that understanding the scientific research behind the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets, including providing pets with high-quality nutrition and maintaining their veterinary health. About Dave’s Pet Food Dave’s Pet Food combines nutritious, yummy, high-quality pet food for owners looking for healthy options for their cats and dogs—at an affordable price. Dave’s formulas were developed to be wholesome...