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This section of the website includes information about the human-animal bond, animals assisting people, and the link between animal abuse and abuse towards people. You can also find guidance on coping with the heartache of beloved pet's death.

The Human-Animal Bond

Our interactions and relationships with animals take different forms for different people. We rely on them for companionship and comfort, food, income and clothing, entertainment, as status symbols, and to provide guidance and transport. Animals such as dogs and horses also perform important jobs for us, such as in the police, military and quarantine services, as assistance dogs for the blind, deaf, and mobility impaired, and to alert epileptic patients before they seizure.

Those with animals in their lives can understand how much they help to improve wellbeing and reduce stress levels, through the company that they provide, their interesting personalities and behaviours, and the social contact, exercise and access to the outdoors that they can encourage1. Pets have even been found to lower blood pressure as much as some medications2! Animals can also help to teach valuable life lessons to children, such as responsibility, patience, and empathy. Children that are exposed to pets early in life may also be less likely to develop allergies.3

Growing evidence also demonstrates the value that animals can play in childhood development, improving the wellbeing and recovery rates of the sick, elderly, and disabled, as rehabilitation aids for abuse and trauma victims, and for the rehabilitation of those in custody.4 In Victoria, a number of organisations provide services to help animals improve people's lives in positive ways, such as assistance to the disabled, or support for the elderly.

The bonds we form with animals can be uniquely meaningful to individuals. Up to fifty per cent of people consider their dog to be a member of the family! Those who work with animals, be they cattle, sheep, working dogs or horses, also appreciate the profound levels of communication that animals can develop with people. Looking after animals brings with it important responsibilities, and our relationships with the animals in our lives should always promote their best interests, too.

1Cutt, H, Giles-Corti, B, Knuiman, M and Burke, V (2007) Dog ownership, health and physical activity: A critical review of the literature, Health and Place (13), pg 261-272

2Patronek, GJ and Glickman, LT (1993) Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease, medical Hypotheses (40) pr 245-249; Aiba, N, Hoota, K, Yokoyama, M, Wang, G, Tabata, M, Kamiya, K, Shimizu, R, Kamekawa, D, Hoshi, K, Yamaoka-Tojo, M and Masuda, T (2012) Usefulness of Pet Ownership as a Modulator of Cardiac Autonomic Imbalance in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, and/or Hyperlipidemia, The Americam Journal of Cardiology (109), pg 1164-1170

3Weigienka, G, Johnson, CC, Havstad, S, Ownby, DR and Zoratti, EM (2010) Indoor pet exposure and the outcomes of total IgE and sensitization at age 18 years, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (126), pg 274-279; Liccardi, G, D'Amato, G, D'Amato, L, Salzillo, A, Piccolo, A, De Napoli, I, Dente, B and Cazzola, M (2005)The effect of pet ownership on the risk of allergic sensitisation and bronchial asthma, Respiratory Medicine (99), pg 227-233

4http://www.acac.org.au/pdf/PowerOfPets_2009_19.pd f
Braun, C, Strangler, T, Narveson, J and Pettingell, S (2009) Animal-assisted therapy as a pain relief intervention for children, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (15), pg 105-109

5Bernabei, V, De Ronchi, La Ferla, DT, Moretti, F, Tonelli, L, Ferrari, B, Forlani, M and Atti, AR (2013) Animal-assisted interventions for elderly patients affected by dementia or psychiatric disorders: A review, Journal of Psychiatric Research

6Burger, E, Stetina, BU, Turner, K, McElheney, J and Handlos, U (2011)Dog-assisted therapy in prison: emotional competences and emotional status of drug-addicted criminal offenders, Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research (6), pf 79-80

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