HOW THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND BENEFITS PEOPLE AND PETS

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TAKE THE CHALLENGE: HOW THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND BENEFITS PEOPLE AND PETS

The Issue:

Humans and animals have always shared a very special bond. Whether it is enabling people with disabilities to navigate their environments, easing tension for survivors of war and natural disaster, or simply acting as a social facilitator for people who are shy, animals can help us better interact with the world around us. They allow people who would otherwise feel excluded or different to integrate into society.

 

The Game Design Prompt:

Research how pets help people who may feel isolated or excluded relate to and interact with others in their communities. Make a game that teaches people how the human-animal bond improves lives.

KEY FACTS

The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.

97% of doctors say there are health benefits associated with owning a pet.

Pets and companion animals have been present in all cultures of the world since ancient times.

Spending just 10 minutes interacting with a furry friend has the potential to reduce our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, by a significant amount.

Strangers offer more smiles and friendly glances to people with dogs, and are more likely to approach and have a conversation with someone with a canine companion.

85 million households in the U.S. are enjoying the benefits of the human-animal bond.

Animals support us in all stages of life: aiding our social, emotional, and cognitive development in childhood, reducing stress in the workplace, and even alleviating symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

THEME RESOURCES

Kira&Grace

The human-animal bond is a special, mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. From slowing down our heart rates to preventing heart disease, allergies and depression, the relationship between humans and animals improves the health and wellbeing of people, pets and the community where they live.

Service Animal

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
ADA Service Animal Requirements: https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their owners. Unlike service dogs, who are trained to perform specific tasks related to a person’s disability, therapy dogs instead interact with a variety of people in different settings, such as schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and disaster areas.  Their roles vary from dogs who give learning disabled children the confidence to read out loud, to actively participating in physical rehabilitation therapy.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals provide their owners with therapeutic benefits through companionship.  For some people with mental or emotional conditions, their presence is critical to their ability to function normally on a daily basis. The pet provides emotional support and comfort that helps them deal with challenges that might otherwise compromise their quality of life.  For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give them a focus in life. In order to become an ESA, the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabiling mental illness.
Pets & Autism

Research is demonstrating the positive influence of pets and animal therapy on a child’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. A childhood dog may lead to a healthier immune system and reduce the development of certain allergies!

Pets & Childhood Allergies

Studies have also shown that children with autism spectrum disorder often experience positive behavioral changes when they are around animals, becoming more receptive to social advances from their peers.

Pets & Blood Pressure

Scientific research has demonstrated the link between human-animal interaction and healthy aging. Pet ownership is linked to increased physical activity, healthy body weight, lower blood pressure and has even been linked to the prevention of cardiovascular disease!

Pets & Your Cardio Health
Pets & Obesity
Pets & Depression

A broad range of investigations have found that animal-human interactions reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness as they enhance social support and general well-being. Pets can also help people manage their long-term mental health conditions!

Paws for Life PTSD Program

Post-traumatic stress disorder make it difficult for veterans to adjust to their post-military life.  Paws for Life’s PTSD Service Dog program is a unique program that trains rescue dogs to be Service Dogs to support and change the lives of PTSD sufferers.  These specially trained canines are trained to interrupt flashbacks, retrieve medications, alert family members when help is needed, and perform other tasks that their human companion requires.

Pets & PTSD

Stylist: Why dogs should be allowed in every office

Stylist

Therapy Dogs International: Disaster Stress Relief Dogs: Disaster Relief Dogs (DRD) have been an essential part of the healing process for people who have been affected by natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other traumatic experiences.  Because people are drawn to dogs, they can more easily talk to a DRD or their handler when they are still in shock; when they are unable to process the necessary information available from professional assistance. (https://www.tdi-dog.org/OurPrograms.aspx?Page=DSRD+(Disaster+Stress+Relief+Dogs)

FEMA: A Beginner’s Guide to Comfort Dogs:  Comfort (or “crisis response”) dogs work during active crises and in emergency situations. They can offer a calming presence and a welcome distraction to those who have been impacted by disasters, especially children. Comfort dogs and their handlers complete specific trainings so they can be a source of relief in rapidly changing environments and situations. Their certification is designed to make sure they understand disaster response and they are then tested to ensure they can handle the high demands of a crisis environment. (https://www.fema.gov/blog/2016-03-22/beginners-guide-comfort-dogs)

From casual chats to stressful situations, the human-animal bond helps us improve the ways we interact with each other.  Animals are not bound to societal norms and they do not pass judgement on the humans they are with. These qualities make them perfect for helping us develop or relearn social skills. 

Help promote the power of the human-animal bond so that everyone, everywhere can experience the health benefits that pets provide. Students can volunteer their timeadvocate for pet-friendly policies in their local communities, support pet-friendly legislation and raise awareness by sharing important information with other people.

habri-logo

Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI): A non-profit research and education organization that is gathering, funding and sharing scientific research to demonstrate the positive health impacts of companion animals.

ASPCA

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): The first US humane society founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law.

CCI_logo

Canine Companions for Independence: An organization that provides assistance dogs free of charge to recipients.                                                                              .

avma

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): The nation’s leading advocate for the veterinary profession.                                                                                           .

TEACHER RESOURCES

Human-Animal Bond Matching Game