A Match Made in Heaven
By Jennifer Boncy
April 26, 2013

Kids and pets—they go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Laurel and Hardy, like milk and honey. So much so, that there is even a holiday to commemorate the special relationship between children and animals—April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day.

While this may be intuitive to most in the pet industry, the evidence of this link continues to be validated by bonafide researchers who are empirically proving what many have always known in their hearts.

News stories are popping up fairly frequently on how pets can help children in many ways. For example, a few months ago Cincinnati Children’s Hospital reported that it was working with a local non-profit to build a pet-visiting center as part of its treatment of sick children. Billed as the first in the nation, the facility will give critically ill hospitalized children a place to unite and spend time with their own pets.

The hospital also has its Dog Visitation Program, through which hospital-approved volunteers can bring their pets in to visit with patients.

These types of initiatives are sure to spread as more people become aware of the benefits children can reap from time spent with animals. Of course, the pet industry is already on board—and industry organizations are actively spreading the word.

The Pets in the Classroom program, established by The Pet Care Trust—a non-profit organization funded, in large part, by various industry organizations, including the World Pet Association (WPA)—is a prime example. The program gives grants to pre-k through eighth-grade classroom teachers to buy small pets—a small animal, reptile, fish or bird—and pet-care supplies for the classroom.

And just last month, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI), unveiled a study showing how pets can help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the study, authored by Marguerite O’Haire, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland in Australia, “the presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with ASD.”

Again, the concept may not be surprising or even new to the many animal lovers already in the industry. But the more science there is to substantiate this innate knowledge, the better.

Happy National Kids and Pets Day!