We can often been found contributing to research projects and current literature exploring the value of human-animal interaction in the community.
One recent project involves our working with Brunel University, to provide a starting point for measuring the social impact of our work. To support the research field of HAI (Human-Animal Interaction) a paper has been put together titled; ‘THE EFFECTS OF PERCEPTION ON HUMAN-ANIMAL RELATIONS’ combining observations and interviews of our TOAST community projects, and one of our Primary School projects, as a means of considering the views of the community across all age, gender, background and culture.
“These interactions with the dogs were found to benefit the humans which transferred to strengthening community ties and social bonds with other people. It was found that the capacity for empathy towards other humans and non-human animals is not bound by how socially connected one is. The role of anthropomorphism was found to connect the humans to another living being, and created an open discourse for the individual to connect with other humans.”
In another project, looking at the impact that animals can have on public health across diverse populations, our Director (Project Lead – Animal-Assisted Intervention) Katie Bristow worked with a team including; Daniel Mills Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln, Dr Sandra McCune, Human-
“Inspired by the seminal Council for Science and Society (CSS) Report, Companion Animals in Society (1988), this work updates and extends its evaluation of the economic impact of companion animals on society and lays a benchmark for future development. This pivotal new book is important for policy makers at national and international levels and all those involved in animal welfare.”
With appropriate selection and training, animals and people can share participation within many mutually beneficial activities, depending on the species’ behavioural needs and abilities, as well as the needs and abilities of the person or people they are interacting with. For example a dog playing ‘fetch’ with a child, can encourage that child affected by autism to engage in social play, leading on to encouraging social communication, meanwhile the dog is enjoying a stimulating and positive interaction in the family home. Other research highlighting referencing the social impact of animal and nature based programmes include;
Mental health. With recent reports and papers that include; A review of nature-
Community cohesion. Ulrike (Uli) Zimolag, Terry Krupa (2009) Pet Ownership as a Meaningful Community Occupation for People With Serious Mental Illness, The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol 63, Number 2, pp. 226-
Psychosocial and psychological benefits. Beetz et al (2012) Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-
Skill acquisition and development. Hall et al (2016) Children Reading to Dogs: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Plos One