Anthrozoology Research Foundation was founded in May 2011 in response to a growing recognition within the scientific community that our modern lifestyle presents humans with unprecedented health challenges, requiring innovative approaches to disease prevention, treatment and management. Although modern medicine has cured numerous diseases, millions of People continue to suffer with chronic physical illnesses, mental distress and age-related diseases. Millions more are physically and mentally well, but fail to truly flourish due to stress, anxiety, loneliness and other problems associated with modern living conditions.
Interactions with companion animals can profoundly enhance the health and wellbeing of humans. Dogs have been used for decades to assist the blind and are increasingly being trained to provide additional specialist services. These include assisting children with autism spectrum disorder as they struggle to master basic communication and social skills, monitoring blood sugar levels for those with diabetes, detecting certain cancers, and helping those with social phobia leave the confines of their home, sometimes for the first time in many years.
Even without specialist training, a small army of volunteers visit nursing homes and hospitals with their pets each week, reporting miraculous effects on some of those who interact with the visiting animals. These include the very young and the very old, some of our most vulnerable and underserviced community members.
“These reports may represent just the first flash of colour, indicating the presence of a rich but as yet uncovered seam of gold waiting patiently to be discovered in our own back yards. It seems likely that, for many people with chronic medical conditions, and for all pets can play an integral role in enhancing health and wellbeing.” Assoc. Professor Pauleen Bennett, Chair AARF
The Challenge – Anthrozoology Foundation
While we know that interactions with animals can be good for us, what we do not know is precisely how, why or when animals are most beneficial. This is important to establish because different interactions with animals may have quite specific effects on different people during various life stages.
In order to establish the exact circumstances under which the health benefits associated with animals occur and can be maximised, scholarly research is urgently required. Despite the fact that the positive health, social and economic impacts of this research are substantial, prior to the Foundation’s establishment, there was no funding body dedicated to funding this critical research endeavour.
Anthrozoology Research Foundation was created to address this situation – by supporting young Anthrozoology scholars as they conduct research designed to help us understand the benefits to human health associated with human animal interactions.