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Scientists around the world receive human-animal bond research grants

News
Article

Purina awarded $120,000 to researchers investigating the human-animal bond

Yakobchuk Olena/stock.adobe.com

Yakobchuk Olena/stock.adobe.com

Purina announced that it has selected the 4 scientists who will be awarded $30,000 in research grants through its bi-annual Purina Sponsorship for Human-Animal Bond studies program. The scientists, located in the United States, Canada, and Austria, will use the grants to further expand their research into the human animal bond, and how pets can provide a healing power to their owners.

"Science is most impactful when it is shared, and we are committed not only to studying the human-pet bond at Purina through our in-house research, but through partnerships with renowned institutions and by supporting individuals who share our passion for pets and commitment to pet welfare," said François Martin, MA, PhD, manager, Global Pet Behavior and Welfare at Purina, in an organizational release.1

According to the release, the 2024 Human-Animal Bond Studies Research Grant winners are1:

  • Bridgett M. vonHoldt, MS, PhD, from Princeton University, New Jersey, United States for her study, Genetics of Canine Hyper-Sociability & Impact on Adoptability of Shelter Dogs, the continued previous research that identified DNA fragments lined with “hyper sociability” in canines. Genetic materials from saliva were collected from 1,000 dogs and were combined with behavioral data with the hopes the team can use genetics to help match dogs with their ideal human.
  • Katrina Merkies, PhD, BSc(Agr), from the University of Guelph, Canada, received a grant for her study The Effect of Touch in Human-Canine Interactions. The study will investigate the physiological and behavioral responses of both canines and humans by exploring forced versus solicited touch interactions. The findings of the study will then be used to improve Animal Assisted Interaction programs by clarifying the dogs who participate consent to being petted and that therapy dogs and people have mutually benefited from their interactions.
  • Magdalena Żebrowska, MSc, PhD, from the Medical University of Vienna, Austria for her study Attachment to Pets Among Women with a History of Childhood Abuse. The study will examine the attachment middle to older age women with a history of child abuse have to pets to better understand if the attachment acts as a buffer to protect survivors of child abuse from psychological and social disorders. Żebrowska and her team hope this study will shed light on the crucial role of pet attachment on the well-being of these survivors.
  • Tracy A. Doucette, PhD, from the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada for her study, Can Dogs Improve Students' Wellbeing Without Harming Their Own, will investigate the impact of the WOOFs therapy dog program. WOOFs is providing stress relief to students at the University of Prince Edward Island as part of a student mental health outreach initiative. The multidimensional assessment of the program will investigate the effect of this program on both students and the participating dogs with hopes of creating animal-assisted therapy interventions on the campus.

"Working with researchers worldwide helps us better understand the impact and importance of our relationships with pets and how we can continue to improve the unique bond that we share with them," Martin concluded.1

Reference

Purina awards research grants to better understand the human-pet bond. News release. Nestle Purina Petcare. November 27, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/purina-awards-research-grants-to-better-understand-the-human-pet-bond-301995558.html

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