New Research to Support Unhoused Youth with Pets | HABRI

New Research to Support Unhoused Youth with Pets

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Grant to Denver University

Washington, D.C. (October 12, 2022) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today funding for a new research project that seeks to develop a multi-perspective strategy for reforming housing service systems to support unhoused young people with pets. This research will be conducted by the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

“We want to identify how to improve the policies of existing housing service systems to better support young people with pets who are unhoused,” said Erin Flynn, a Ph.D. student who will co-lead the project. “Through this research, we will synthesize the expertise of unhoused young people and service providers to develop a framework for housing systems to better protect the human-animal bond for this vulnerable population.”

Every year, 4.2 million young people in the United States experience some level of homelessness, and unhoused people face higher risks of health problems, substance abuse, and depression. Scientific research demonstrates the health and developmental benefits of pet ownership for young people, ranging from better mental health and quality of life to improved physical health. Pets may be especially likely to benefit vulnerable populations such as unhoused youth.

Many young people experiencing homelessness describe their pets as family members and experience distress when they perceive this relationship is not being respected by housing services. A lack of pet-friendly policies leaves unhoused young people with pets excluded from housing, health, and other related services. Young people have reported delaying seeking help or refusing services altogether if it meant they would be separated from their pets.

Erin Flynn will be joined by co-Principal Investigator Laura Coddington, also a Ph.D. student of the Graduate School of Social Work, and Co-Investigators Dr. Kimberly Bender and Dr. Jennifer Wilson. Researchers will conduct in-depth interviews with unhoused young people and housing service providers in the Denver, CO area. Interviews will be focused on identifying how current policies, practices and beliefs influence young people’s relationships with pets, and will identify barriers and solutions to help support unhoused youth with pets.

“Currently, housing service programs do not recognize the critical role that the human-animal bond plays in the lives of unhoused young people with pets,” explained Laura Coddington. “Our research will help address this critical gap in current housing initiatives available to young people.”

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

Logan Trautman

logan@inspireprgroup.com

412.915.4038

###

Press Releases
Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Announces 2015 Research Grants

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced funding for seven research grants in 2015, totaling more than $225,000 dollars. Focused on child health and development, mental health and wellness, and healthy aging, these grants will advance scientific understanding of the human-animal bond and its impact on human health. “As one of the organization’s founders, I am proud of how far we have come in only a few years,” said Bob Vetere, President and CEO of the American Pet Products Association and President of the HABRI Board of Trustees. “With HABRI, we can put science behind what many of us believe – if we take good care of our pets, they will take good care of us!” “The companies and organizations that support HABRI are leaders in supporting the scientific research to advance our knowledge of the human-animal bond,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Everyone associated with HABRI is grateful for their commitment to this important endeavor.” HABRI has awarded a total of $226,557 to the following recipients and research projects: Sandra Branson, PhD, MSN, RN (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston): Biobehavioral Effects of Therapy Dog Visitation in Elderly Intensive Care Unit Patients Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, ABPP (Yale University): Interactions with Animals to Reduce Children’s Stress Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP (University of Missouri): Companion Animals, Social Engagement, and Psychological Well-Being in Mid and Later Adulthood Annie Petersen, Ed.D (Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies): Listening EARS: How Does Reading to Rabbits Effect the Reading Skills of Third Grade Students? Robin L. Gabriels, PsyD (University of Colorado, Denver): Physiological Wellness Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital Program Marguerite E. O’Haire, PhD (Purdue University): Pilot Study of the Effects of Service Dogs...

Press Releases
New Research Says Therapy Dogs Are OK!

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the publication of a study exploring the impacts of therapy dog sessions on the welfare of the dogs involved. Conducted by researchers at American Humane, findings of the study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased stress resulting from the therapy visits. Funded by HABRI and Zoetis, American Humane’s newly-released “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study,” is one of the largest human-animal bond studies focusing on the impact of animal-assisted interaction (AAI) on children with cancer and their parents, as well as the participating therapy dogs. “Results of this study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased behavioral or physiological stress, indicating that placing therapy dogs in this type of therapeutic setting does not cause undue stress to the animals,” said Amy McCullough, PhD and Principal Investigator, American Humane. “This research will help American Humane, HABRI and practitioners in the field to maintain the highest standards of animal welfare.” “This research project is important because now we have strong evidence that, with proper training and handling, the welfare of therapy animals in hospital settings is not adversely impacted,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “As more animals are deployed to help hospital patients, we can be confident that the dogs are OK!” Dr. McCullough, along with Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, MPH and Molly Jenkins, MSW of American Humane, supervised data collection on participating handler-dog teams at five children’s hospitals across the United States. The objective of the study in regard to participating canines was to determine the stress levels of therapy dogs during regular AAI sessions with pediatric oncology patients and their families. The research team videotaped each animal-assisted therapy session and coded the dogs’ behavior using an ethogram developed to capture affiliative and stress-related behaviors. The frequency...

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

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...

HABRI