New Research to Evaluate the Effects of Station Dogs on Mental Health of First Responders | HABRI

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

Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Partners Award Grant to the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine

Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2023) — 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 working in local law enforcement stations, including less burnout, higher job satisfaction, and better mental health outcomes. Further, researchers will also measure how the human-animal bond with the facility dog may relate to these outcomes.

“We are grateful for the support and expertise of Pet Partners, which has joined with HABRI to fund research with real-world impact,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “This research project will provide mental health professionals, human resource professionals and policymakers with important data and best practices to deploy therapy animals in support of our first responders.”

About Pet Partners

Pet Partners is the leader in the therapy animal field for registering volunteer teams. Since 1977, we have supported thousands of teams in making millions of meaningful visits across the country and around the world. Through the human-animal bond, we can improve the physical, social, and emotional lives of both the people and animals involved. Pet Partners supports volunteer teams by offering the highest quality preparation, an unmatched approach to evaluation and registration—for nine different types of animals, and a focus on connections. We elevate the importance of therapy animal visits, and our teams help build a healthier and happier world for us all. Whether or not you have a pet, learn more about sharing the human-animal bond by visiting petpartners.org.

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that funds innovative scientific research to document the health benefits of companion animals; educates the public about human-animal bond research; and advocates for the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit http://www.habri.org.

Contact

Logan Trautman

logan@inspireprgroup.com

412.915.4038

Mindy Burnett

mindyburnett@arizona.edu

714.504.7662

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