Research makes a difference
HABIC is engaged in conducting and supporting research in the field of human-animal interaction, including evaluating outcomes of animal-assisted interventions.
What is the human-animal bond?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the human-animal bond is “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals.”
Research suggests that the human-animal bond can impact people and animals in many positive ways:
- Some studies have found that petting and making eye contact with a dog can lead to increases in oxytocin, a chemical in the brain involved in empathy, trust, and bonding.
- Interactions with dogs can also decrease cortisol, the brain’s primary stress hormone, improve our overall mood and wellbeing, and reduce anxiety.
- Pets can provide meaningful friendship and companionship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, pet ownership was found to decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness and support positive mental and physical health.
- Animals are great for providing an opportunity to socially connect with others. These social benefits of animals are especially helpful for seniors or others who may be more prone to social isolation.
- Pets get us up and moving, and can be beneficial for our cardiovascular health. In fact, having a pet is associated with less risk of developing hypertension.
Current funded projects
HABIC, through Colorado State University’s School of Social Work, provides grant funding to support interdisciplinary team research focused on building the science related to human-animal interaction to better understand the impacts of HAI on both human health and mental health.
Weekly Peer Group Discussion Sessions as an Intervention Strategy for Coping with Euthanasia-related Stress in Dairy Workers
Primary Investigator: Lily Edwards-Callaway, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences
Experiential Learning to Advance Human-Animal Health and Mental Health among Homeless Individuals and their Animal Companions
Primary Investigator: Paula Yuma, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Piloting an Enhanced Protocol to Evaluate Occupational Therapy in an Equine Environment for Youth with Autism
Primary Investigator: Caitlin Peters, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences
Human-Animal Interactions as Protective Factors for Older Adults Moving Into Senior Housing: A Prospective Longitudinal Study
Primary Investigator: Gloria Luong, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Childhood adversity and human-animal interactions: Biological, Psychological, and Social Risks & Protective Factors and Differential Outcomes
Primary Investigator: Samantha Brown, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Contributor: Kerri Rodriguez, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Human-Animal Bond in Colorado center in the School of Social Work
The loss of a service animal through death or retirement: Exploring the mental health impact on service dog handlers and potentially mitigating resiliency factors
Primary Investigator: Lori Kogan, Professor of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Contributor: Jen Currin-McCulloch, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work