HABRI Proves Animals Provide Amazing Health Benefits
Whenever I come home after a bad day, my dog is my first point of contact. If I’m feeling depressed or anxious, she knows to put her head on my lap so I pet her, which always relieves my stress. Although she’s had no formal service dog training, she performs the job without even being asked. Service dogs and other pets have always piqued my interest as a professional dog trainer. The calming effects they can have on a person, and the health benefits they provide, makes me think everyone should own one.
Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) is a non-profit research organization whose mission is to use formal, scientific data to prove that pets are assets when it comes to the health of families and communities. It’s more than just guiding the blind these days; service pets provide a range of services to all sorts of disabilities. It has been proven that pets can help with mental conditions such depression, anxiety, autism, PTSD, agoraphobia and more.
Related: Science Says Your Dog Loves You
Partnering with Cohen Research Group for a recent study, HABRI determined that 97 percent of doctors believe that pets provide health benefits. They surveyed 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners and also concluded that 74 percent of them would actually prescribe an animal if the medical evidence agreed that it would improve overall health.
“Doctors and their patients really understand the human health benefits of pets, and they are putting that understanding into practice,” says HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative funds research on the evidence-based health benefits on human-animal interaction, and this survey demonstrates that we are on the right track.”
As part of its current research, HABRI has been focusing its energy on aiding children with autism. The organization released a survey performed by Marguerite O’Hare, a PhD candidate at the University at Queensland in Australia. The survey compared the results of using a toy versus a guinea pig with people affected by autism. The results showed that the presence of a live animal encouraged the participants in the study to be more social. They were more likely to smile and engage with others than when they just had the toy.
Perhaps this was the reason of HABRI’s recent grant to Green Chimneys, a non-profit dedicated to advancing animal-assisted therapy and other programs that enhance the lives of those around them. The grant is to fund the study Animal Assisted Social Skills Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The goal is to spread the message and help those with autism lead a better life with the help of a pet. The study will compare the social advancements of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with pets and without pet.
For us our pets are our families. But for some, pets can be a lifesaver. They can give children the ability to lead a more normal life, and HABRI is doing a fantastic job paving that road!
Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she's not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.
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