Center based on animal-human interaction

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Richmond, Va. - The health benefits of interacting with companion animals will be analyzed at a center launched by the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Richmond, Va. - The health benefits of interacting with companionanimals will be analyzed at a center launched by the Virginia CommonwealthUniversity.

The VCU Center for Human-Animal Interaction will be housed in the Schoolof Medicine - a national first- and will play host to interdisciplinaryclinical research, teaching and service activities connected to the human-animalinteraction.

Sandra Barker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, who has an adjunct appointmentwith the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Virginia Tech University'sveterinary college, will direct the center, which will be part of the Departmentof Psychiatry.

Barker's latest research, with co-leader Anand Pandurangi, M.D., involvesmeasuring the effects of a therapy dog on patient dysphoria - an emotionalcondition with symptoms of anxiety, depression and restlessness prior toelectroconvulsive therapy.

The center has already forged a partnership with the Center for AnimalHuman Relationships at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of VeterinaryMedicine at Virginia Tech.

Services at the center presently include pet-loss counseling, animal-assistedtherapy; and pet visitation.

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