Human Animal Bond Research Institute Hosts Week of Virtual Programming Highlighting the Importance of Pets for Public Health
Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2021) — 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 Animal Health Institute (AHI) unveiled the winners of the 13th annual Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill contest, which recognizes the most adorable animals owned by Members of Congress and their staff.
- Dog: Reily
Owner: Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-1)
- Cat: Dorothy
Owner: Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-1)
- Exotic: Dublin
Owner: Emma Settle
Office of Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-8)
In special guest appearances, Tamron Hall, journalist and TV personality, advocated for Congress to increase funding for pet-friendly domestic violence shelters. Bobby Bones, best-selling author and TV personality, delivered a heartfelt message in support of veterans with post-traumatic stress, who will now be able to train and have access to service dogs after recent passage of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act.
“We are grateful to the many pet care companies and organizations who made virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill possible,” added Feldman. “We hope to be back in person in 2022 with our much-anticipated Pet Night on Capitol Hill reception!”
All recorded discussions from Pet Week on Capitol Hill are now available to view on-demand at www.petnight.com, where people can also sign up to be invited to Pet Night on Capitol Hill 2022. Pet Night on Capitol Hill is an annual event, hosted by HABRI and sponsored by the pet care community. For more information, please visit www.petnight.com. Images available upon request.
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 Investigate Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy for Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research project to determine the effects of an equine-assisted therapy (EAT) program on the lives of older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, How does 8 weeks of equine-assisted therapy affect older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?, led by researchers from the Texas Woman’s University School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, will compare bradykinesia severity and functional outcomes before and after 8 weeks of EAT in adults with PD, and characterize the resulting human-animal interaction “While research studies examining the physiological benefits of horseback riding have been conducted before, there is a lack of published research regarding the physical adaptations of EAT in adults with PD,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, B. Rhett Rigby, PhD, Texas Woman’s University. “We hope that the results of this study will further the efficacy of EAT as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance by healthcare practitioners.” Thirty men diagnosed with PD, aged 40 to 80 years, will be recruited and randomly assigned into two groups. Fifteen participants will complete eight weeks of EAT, and fifteen participants will complete a similar protocol on a horseback riding simulator. The EAT intervention will contain 17 total sessions across a period of eight weeks, and a licensed physical therapist will oversee and conduct all EAT sessions. A similar protocol will be in place for the simulated riding session. Preliminary data in the form of two pilot studies suggest that an improvement in postural sway and balance is present after both EAT and simulated riding in older adults with balance deficits. The study will seek to determine if these adaptions will lead to improvements with other hallmark features of PD pathophysiology, including bradykinesia, posture, balance, and gait. Researchers expect that individuals...
New Research to Study Impact of a Service Dog Training Program for Children with Autism and their Families
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced funding for a new research project to evaluate the impact of a service dog training program and service dog matching on autistic children and their families. This grant was awarded to Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. One in 44 children in the United States is estimated to be born with autism spectrum disorder. Autistic children may have differences in social interaction and communication, and may also struggle with comorbid conditions such as anxiety. Behavioral care and supportive interventions are key to aiding autistic children and their families. Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of dog ownership for autistic children and their families can include increased social skills and reduced family stress, yet there is a lack of research on the potential benefits of service dogs for this population. “Service dogs represent a relatively new yet increasingly popular approach for assisting families that include an autistic child,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Carlisle. “This research will further our understanding of the impact of these dogs on the health and wellbeing of autistic children and their families.” Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Carlisle highlights the importance of families viewing their pet dogs as a good match with their children, for the families to experience benefits. Service dogs, with a high level of training and predictable calm temperament, are theorized to be more likely to be accepted as a good match by a family that includes an autistic child. This study will use a cross-sectional survey of parents of autistic children. Data collected will be used to compare those who are on a waitlist to receive a service dog, those who are in the training process to be matched with a service dog, and those who are already matched with a service dog. A longitudinal...
Pet Care Community Pays Tribute to Rep. Kurt Schrader for Championing the Human-Animal Bond in Congress
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), along with leading organizations in the pet care community presented Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) with the “Human Animal Bond Lifetime Achievement Award” at Pet Night on Capitol Hill. Pet Night paid special tribute to Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) with the “Human-Animal Bond Lifetime Achievement Award” to recognize his dedication to animal health and the human-animal bond. Throughout his impressive career, Congressman Schrader, currently the only veterinarian in Congress, was instrumental in developing legislation to safeguard the integrated health of people and companion animals. “Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve been proud to champion the important benefits pets bring to our lives, and the vital role veterinary medicine plays in safeguarding public health,” said Representative Schrader. “It was my honor to receive the Human-Animal Bond Lifetime Achievement Award. I hope to inspire my colleagues and others to continue to support policies and legislation that advance the health of people and their pets.” The Human Animal Bond Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Congressman Schrader by HABRI, the American Pet Products Association (APPA), American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Animal Health Institute (AHI), American Kennel Club (AKC), Cat Fanciers’ Association, North American Veterinary Community (NAVC), Pet Advocacy Network and the World Pet Association (WPA). “On behalf of the entire pet care community, we are incredibly grateful for the dedication of Congressman Schrader and his staff to animal health and the human-animal bond,” said Steven Feldman, President, HABRI. “Through supporting legislation like the One Health Act that serves to protect the health of animals and humans, Representative Schrader has helped share the message with Congress that that pets play an important role in our health and...