Study: Owning Pets Makes Better Neighbors
Fences may make better neighbors, but according to a recent study, so do pets. Being a pet owner helps foster a communal feeling in your neighborhood.
New research from The University of Western Australia, in collaboration with the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, it seems that being a pet owner means you also like your neighbors and neighborhood more than non-pet owners.
The researchers surveyed 2,500 people–pet and non-pet owners alike–from four different cities. The three U.S. cities were Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee and San Diego, California. They also looked at Perth, Australia, and measured the feelings of helpfulness, friendliness, trust and engagement people felt from their neighbors and in their neighborhoods. Those who owned pets found more benefit in those areas than those who didn’t own pets, and this was consistent in all four of the surveyed cities.
The pet owners who were surveyed said they felt stronger social connections in their neighborhoods, and found their neighbors to be more friendly, helpful and trustworthy than their non-pet owning peers did. The authors of the study assert that pet ownership is not just good for individuals, but for harmonic community and neighborhood relationships as well.
Lead researcher Dr. Lisa Wood says that pets are not just ‘social icebreakers’ in neighborhoods, or ways to meet other people, but can actually be ‘glue’ that hold the neighborhood members together. The research team wanted to see to what extent pets had contributions in the ‘ties that bind’ neighborhoods together.
They found that dog walkers felt strong neighborhood ties as well as increased safety perceptions, and believes that this falls in line with previous research that purports that pets act as meeting catalysts for neighbors in general.
Sandra McCune is a HAI Scientific leader at WALTHAM and says that their study supports the concept of establishing pet-friendly cities and towns to create more communities where neighbors feel socially more positive toward each other. Saying that pet ownership can bring health and positive social impact to neighbors as well, and that impact should be well appreciated.