Blog: Human-animal bond moves to center stage


Organization seeking congressional support from veterinarians for initiative promoting health benefits of pets.

The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) just concluded a highly successful annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Besides providing thousands of hours of high-quality continuing education for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, NAVC serves as the first gathering point each year for the animal health industry. Practicing veterinarians get the chance to mix with veterinary school deans and senior leaders from animal health and nutrition companies.

One such meeting of interest was held by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative, or HABRI for short. With a growing body of research demonstrating the human health benefits of pet ownership, much of which is peer-reviewed, HABRI is challenging the animal health industry, including veterinarians, to step up and support a congressional initiative to align pet ownership with other federally recognized wellness practices capable of improving human health. The focus will be on the role of pets in specific conditions such as autism and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as the general health benefits for the broader population (lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular metrics, fewer doctor visits) attributable to regular interaction with companion animals.

There will be myriad opportunities for veterinarians, animal health companies and veterinary schools to participate in this HABRI-led campaign, and its long-term success spells only good news for the profession, industry and American pet owners.

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement. The views and opinions presented are those of the author.

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