Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Honors:

Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Pet-Inclusive Culture Category 

The Street Dog Coalition

Public Service Category

The Dr. Vernard Hodges It Takes a Village Foundation

Media Category


Products & Services Category


Pet-Inclusive Infrastructure Category

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced the winners of its annual Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards, which recognize companies and organizations with innovative products and programs designed to advance the human-animal bond and create a more pet-friendly society. The 2023 Human Animal Bond Innovation Award winners are:


Pet-Inclusive Culture: Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Tito’s Handmade Vodka has been proud to call itself a team of “dog people” for more than twenty-five years. At first, it was just Tito and “DogJo” out at the distillery. Soon, stray dogs started showing up to receive food and care, creating a tradition of distillery dogs that continues to this day. Since those early days, Tito’s has rescued over 120 distillery dogs and supported thousands of animal-focused nonprofits. From the distillery to home offices around the country and beyond, Tito’s culture always includes canine companions – affectionately known as co-woofers – with pet-friendly workspaces and regular “yappy hours”. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is always ready to celebrate the human-animal bond, serving as a model of pet-inclusive culture.

The Pet-Inclusive Culture category is sponsored by Nationwide Pet.


Public Service Category: Street Dog Coalition

The Street Dog Coalition (SDC) works to strengthen the human-animal bond in over sixty communities with street clinics to provide free veterinary care to pets of people who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing homelessness. They focus on providing services that are anchored around a One Health model that recognizes the way that people, animals and their communities all affect one another. SDC uses evidence-based practices to inform its outreach efforts, which also include providing free spay/neuter vouchers to pet owners; supporting veterans by caring for their pets; and making public transportation more pet friendly.

The Public Service Category is sponsored by Zoetis.


Media Category: The Dr. Vernard Hodges “It Takes a Village” Foundation, Inc.

The Dr. Vernard Hodges “It Takes a Village” Foundation was founded in 2011 by Dr. Vernard Hodges, who along with Vice President Dr. Terrence Ferguson are popular celebrity veterinarians with their hit National Geographic WILD TV show, “Critter Fixers: Country Vets.” Both veterinarians have been active in their middle Georgia community for many years through generous charitable contributions and entrepreneurial leadership. Selected for its “Vet for a Day” program, the “It Takes a Village” Foundation introduces teens to veterinary medicine as a career. Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson are passionate about sharing their knowledge, skills and life journeys to help children from diverse communities learn about career opportunities in veterinary medicine.

The Media category is sponsored by Dog TV.


Products & Services Category: Amazon

Amazon Pet Day in 2023 included five philanthropic mobile clinics, each offering free canine core and rabies vaccinations for up to 100 pets and pet families in need. These clinics were held at central community resource locations chosen to provide access to underserved communities. This collaboration between Amazon, PetIQ and more than 30 grassroots organizations made Pet Day about more than just pet products by connecting passionate veterinary professionals with committed neighborhood groups to serve hundreds of pet families in need.


Pet-Inclusive Infrastructure Category: BestyBnB

BestyBnB helps domestic violence, mental health, animal welfare and other social service agencies secure safe, temporary homes for clients and their pets so they can and will seek the help they need. The BestyBnB platform is a critical solution for nonprofit organizations to help millions of women, children, mental health patients and their pets, using innovation and technology to remove barriers to safe housing that exist in many communities across the United States. BestyBnB was born out of the mission to keep pets and people safe, connected and together, building the necessary infrastructure to support the human-animal bond in times of crisis.


“PetSmart Charities is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor for the Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards to celebrate the powerful relationship between pets and people,” said Aimee Gilbreath, President of PetSmart Charities and member of the HABRI Board of Trustees. “This year’s honorees demonstrate a deep commitment to protecting and strengthening the human-animal bond in their communities.”


“HABRI is grateful to Presenting Sponsor: PetSmart Charities; Category Sponsors: Nationwide Pet, Zoetis and DOGTV; and Supporting Sponsors, whiskerDocs and the World Pet Association,” said HABRI President Steven Feldman. “These organizations have not only made the Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards possible, they have also demonstrated a strong and enduring commitment to the human-animal bond.”


Hayley Maynard



Press Releases
Pet Ownership Saves $22.7 Billion in Annual Health Care Costs

Pet ownership saves the U.S. health care system $22.7 billion annually, according to a newly released economic report. The report, commissioned by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), examined the health care cost savings associated with pet ownership in the United States. The report – made possible by a grant from Banfield Pet Hospital – was co-authored by Terry L. Clower, PhD and Tonya E. Thornton, PhD, MPPA, both of whom have extensive expertise in economic and public policy research. Their analysis not only reflects savings from better overall health for pet owners in the form of fewer doctor visits per year, but also tracks specific savings for key public health issues affecting millions of Americans, including reduced obesity, reduced infections, and better mental health for children, seniors, and our nation’s veterans. Annual Health Care Cost Savings Associated with Pet Ownership “The results of this analysis are conservative and likely underestimate the positive health care savings connected to pet ownership,” said Dr. Clower. “Presently, there is not yet sufficient data available to calculate the direct heath care cost savings for some of the known beneficial health effects of pet ownership and we believe that future analyses will show even greater economic benefits.” “By commissioning this economic report, we are documenting the important role of pets as valued contributors to public health,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. “This data suggests that there should be stronger societal support for keeping pets and people healthy together.” The full report, The Health Care Cost Savings of Pet Ownership, is available for download at Report Methodology The report authors conducted an analysis of the health care cost savings associated with pet ownership by examining the scientifically-documented health benefits of pet ownership; identifying the populations receiving these benefits;...

Press Releases
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...

Press Releases
American Veterinary Distributors Association Supports Human-Animal Bond Research and Education

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced that the American Veterinary Distributors Association (AVDA) has made a $5,000 donation to help gather, fund and share scientific research that demonstrates the human health benefits of pet ownership. “The industry leading companies that form the AVDA understand the importance of the human-animal bond and how it enhances both human and animal health,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The veterinary community plays a key role in the health of our communities and AVDA’s support will help deliver that message.” “AVDA is proud to join the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative effort,” said AVDA Executive Director Jackie King. “By supporting research and education on the benefits of the human-animal bond, AVDA can help bring the health benefits of pets to more people and more families.” The HABRI Foundation 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 pets and other animals; informs the public about human-animal bond research; and advocates for public policies that support the beneficial role of pets in society. Founded more than 35 years ago to enhance the distributor’s position in the animal health distribution channel, AVDA is committed to the success of its members by providing networking, education, and business tools to strengthen the vital link between distributors, suppliers and veterinarians. For more information on the AVDA, visit Founded by The American Pet Products Association (APPA), Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and Zoetis, the HABRI Foundation serves as a rallying point for a broad coalition of companies, organizations, and individuals who believe that our relationship with pets and animals makes the world a better place by significantly improving human health and quality of life. For more information on...