Building Bonds

Research into the many benefits associated with the bond between people and pets makes the entire pet industry stronger.




Ask any pet owner and they will agree: Pets are family. Eighty million American households have at least one pet, and that number keeps rising. Being part of the growing pet industry is an incredible opportunity because, whatever the specific business or product, there is a shared purpose to help people and pets live happy, healthy lives together. The field of human-animal bond research supports this industry mission. 

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) is a non-profit organization working to establish the vital role of companion animals in society so that the human-animal bond is universally embraced as an essential element of human wellness. Each year, new studies are published that demonstrate the positive role pets play in improving our health and well-being. Some of the latest studies include research showing that pet dogs help improve family functioning and lower stress in families with children with autism; research about the link between dog ownership and increased physical activity; and evidence that service dogs help to decrease symptoms of post-traumatic stress in our veterans. These promising findings are a result of just a few of the HABRI-funded scientific research projects made possible with support from a committed group of companies and organizations

Now that HABRI has established a track record of research leadership, the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and an increasing number of leading pet product and animal health companies, organizations and individuals rely on HABRI as a credible and trusted resource for scientific information. But HABRI can only continue to supply a strong pipeline of human-animal bond research with financial support from the pet industry. For those who are not already behind HABRI’s efforts, it’s time to support HABRI and help spread awareness of the importance of pet ownership. 

More reasons to get involved can be found in the results of the recent HABRI-funded survey of 2,000 pet owners, which found that good things happen for both people and pets when knowledge about the health benefits of pet ownership is shared. Specifically, upon learning of the health benefits of pets, 89 percent of pet owners would be more likely to take better care of their pet, and 88 percent would be more likely to provide their pets with high-quality nutrition. Very directly, 69 percent of pet owners said that this knowledge would make them more likely to spend more money on their pet overall.

Further, knowledge of the scientific research on the health benefits of pets can boost pet ownership, with 87 percent of pet owners saying they would be more likely to recommend a pet to a friend or family member and 81 percent saying they would be more likely to get another pet in the future. Pet owners also believe society should be more pet-friendly with 84 percent agreeing that health and life insurance companies should give discounts for owning a pet and 87 percent saying they would be more likely to buy products from pet-friendly businesses.

With so much to gain for people, pets and the companies that serve them, supporting human-animal bond research should be viewed not only as a great benefit to society, but also as a long-term business opportunity. As more people make pets part of their families, I hope you will view it as both a responsibility and a smart strategy to educate them about the science of the human-animal bond.

Steven Feldman is executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). To learn more about HABRI or to become a HABRI supporter, please visit or contact Feldman directly at


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