The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation is a non-profit research and education organization that is gathering, funding and sharing the scientific research that demonstrates the positive health impacts of animals on people.
We had the pleasure of speaking with HABRI’s Executive Director Steve Feldman in our latest Animals’ Voice Pawdcast.
Listen in to learn how owning a pet can have benefits for children, elderly, and everyone in between! Feldman also talks about how pets benefit people with mental health illnesses.
Steve Feldman says everything started with HABRI Central, the world’s largest online research library for research on the human-animal bond. He says there are more than 25,000 entries that are keyword searchable.
Then two years ago, Feldman says they started funding new research on the human-animal bond. Such as a recent study in Canada where doctors ask patients about their pets during consultation.
“You learn all kinds of important health information,” he says, “Pets can be used to influence important health decisions, like quitting smoking.”
HABRI’s research has also found pets reduce stress for kids, Feldman says.
“Bringing in therapy animals to reduce anxiety, to alleviate stress during exams, all of this is becoming much more common,” he says.
Having animals available in a classroom, Feldman says can increase empathy, responsibility and learning development.
He says studies also show pregnant mothers living with pets and exposure to pets in the first 6 months of life, reduces incidence of asthma and allergies for rest of a child’s life.
When it comes to mental health, he says they’ve found research that proves the presence of pets reduces anxiety and depression. He says animal-assisted therapy is becoming much more common for many counsellors and psychiatrists.
Feldman says one of the most impactful stats he’s seen so far is from the American Heart Association. They found not only do people with pets have better heart health, but they also recover faster from heart problems.
“If you have a heart attack,” he says, “if you have a pet you’re more likely to be alive one year later than if you don’t.”
Feldman says HABRI’s overall goal is to give more reasons to adopt, to keep pets, and to make society more pet-friendly.
“Putting science behind all these great stories is so important, because that’s how you change things,” he says.
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