Celebrating 10 Years of Advancing the Human-Animal Bond
Over the past decade, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute has established its presence as a trusted resource of information on the human-animal bond.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). Founded by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Zoetis and Petco in 2010, HABRI has become the go-to resource for research and information on the human-animal bond—the mutually beneficial relationship between pets and people.
HABRI’s vision is for the human-animal bond to be universally embraced as an essential element of human wellness. HABRI works to achieve this vision through high-quality research into the health benefits of pet ownership, education programs showing that healthy relationships with animals can result in better health and well being, and advocacy for policies that support a stronger role for pets in society.
In 10 years, HABRI has reached some big milestones. HABRI is home to the world’s largest online library of human-animal interaction science, HABRI Central, which has amassed more than 30,000 resources and counting. HABRI has received more than 200 proposals from 15 countries and funded a total of 31 research projects. HABRI has now reached $3 million in research funding focused on the benefits of pet ownership for mental and physical health. Over the past decade, HABRI-funded studies have contributed to the body of evidence that has strongly demonstrated the positive impact of the human-animal bond on our collective health and wellness. Pets have been shown to alleviate stress, improve physical activity and heart health, provide social support and even create more connected communities.
As research into the health benefits of the human-animal bond has blossomed, pets are playing a more central role in people’s lives. According to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67 percent of U.S. households own a pet, equating to 85 million homes. Ninety-eight percent of pet owners consider their pet to be important members of the family, and three quarters report mental health improvements resulting from pet ownership. The research-backed benefits of pets have fueled the increasing demand for more pets to be welcomed in schools, hospitals, workplaces and, more importantly, where we live. HABRI is working on strategic initiatives to accelerate this trend, with a focus on pet-inclusive workplaces and housing.
Over the last 10 years, HABRI’s efforts have contributed to a healthier, more-pet-friendly society, and have supported a growing demand for pet products and services. HABRI’s work has always underscored the key role of pet products, nutrition, services and healthcare in strengthening the human-animal bond. We know from our research that knowledge of the human-animal bond helps drive interest in taking better care of pets and increasing pet spending. In 2018 alone, pet owners spent a record $72.56 billion.
These milestones and HABRI’s continued work is made possible by the support of many leaders from our amazing pet care community. With their contributions, HABRI supporters are not only fulfilling their corporate social responsibility, but they are also benefiting from collaboration on advocacy efforts, timely updates on scientific research and shareable, educational content focused on communicating the science of the human-animal bond.
Your participation here at Global Pet Expo makes you a leader in the pet care community, and this in turn means that pet owners rely on you to help them develop strong, healthy bonds with their pets. Supporting HABRI is one great way to demonstrate your commitment and dedication to your customers and the pets they love so much. As you encounter HABRI supporters on the show floor, please be sure to thank them for their efforts and consider what joining them can do for your business and for our progress over the next 10 years.
Steven Feldman is executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI).