Veterinary professionals have long valued the human-animal bond, knowing that pets offer many health benefits for their human owners.

Thanks to the work of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, there is now scientific backing to show the health benefits and value provided by companion animals. To support this cause and contribute to further research on the benefits of the human-animal bond, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) announced it has joined the HABRI Steering Committee. 

HABRI, a nonprofit foundation, serves as a rallying point for a growing assembly of companies, organizations, and individuals with the common goal of building broad understanding, education, and adoption of the human-animal bond as a beneficial factor in human health. 

"The practice teams at our AAHA-accredited hospitals celebrate the value of the human-animal bond each and every day," said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, AAHA CEO. "Ask any of them and they can rattle off a number of reasons why pets are good for their people. HABRI's research is putting scientific evidence behind what many of us have been saying for years related to how animals affect a person's well-being. With HABRI's help, we are able to say these things with strong evidence behind us and no longer have to take a leap of faith regarding what we know to be true."

HABRI maintains the world's largest online library of human-animal bond research and information, funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals, informs the public about human-animal bond research, and advocates for public policies that support the beneficial role of pets in society.

"The American Animal Hospital Association and its members are leaders among the veterinary community in facilitating and nurturing the human-animal bond," said Steve Feldman, executive director of HABRI. "With active participation in HABRI's efforts, AAHA is demonstrating its commitment to healthy pets, healthy people, and healthy communities."

Scientific evidence shows that pets improve heart health, help alleviate depression, increase sense of well-being, and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions, from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer's disease to autism.

"When people learn about the specific health benefits associated with pet ownership, they realize the importance of taking great care of their pets," Feldman added. "When we take great care of the animals in our lives, they take great care of us."  

HABRI is currently funding 13 high-quality research projects, which include: 

  • Companion Animals, Social Engagement, and Psychological Well-Being in Mid and Later Adulthood
  • Interactions With Animals to Reduce Children's Stress
  • Pilot Study of the Effects of Service Dogs on Mental Health and Wellness in War Veterans With PTSD and/or TBI
  • The Role of Dog Walking in Heart Health Promotion
  • Long-Term Effects of Pet Dogs on Families With Children With Autism

For more information about HABRI, please visit


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