New Research Shows Dogs Can Help De-Stress Families With Autistic Children

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation recently released the results of a long-term study that explored the effects of pet dogs on families with children with autism spectrum disorder, and the findings are quite paw-sitive!

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Published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, the study showed significantly improved family functioning in families with a dog compared to those without. The study also found a reduction in parent-child dysfunctional interactions among families that had a dog.

So, what does this mean? In families with autistic children, a dog can aide in creating a less stressful, more calm environment. As HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman explains, “Parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress, and now we have strong scientific evidence to show that pets can have positive effects on these quality-of-life issues.” He also noted that a pet dog is something to consider as a way to “improve family harmony.”

This study is among the first published studies of more than a dozen HABRI-funded research projects examining the effects of companion animals on human health. For more information and to read about the innovative research projects HABRI has funded, visit their website.

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Autistic Students Benefit from Interaction with Classroom Pets

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It doesn’t take long for classroom pets to become classroom friends for young students—especially those with autism. Multiple studies have shown that students with behavioral and social issues are positively impacted by interaction with a classroom pet—and teachers agree:

“We have seen a great turnaround in classroom behavior, now that we have our classroom pet, Buddy Boudreaux (guinea pig).  I work with students on the autism spectrum in grades 5-6. We have many moments of frustration and sensory overload that often lead to meltdowns within our classroom setting. Buddy has helped so many of our students feel better when they get to just sit and read to him. They look forward to earning reward time to hold him, interact with him, and help with some of his pet responsibilities (such as feeding, filling water bottle, etc.).”

Jennifer Porche
special education teacher
Florence, AL

“I have a couple of Autistic students and [Charlie the Bearded Dragon] often sits with them and helps them on days when things are out of sorts. It is amazing! The biggest success story for Charlie is that we have a student in an emotional/behavioral class that has a really hard time fitting in. He gets very angry at times, and when the teachers weren’t able to calm him down with the usual strategies, we found [him] just holding and talking to Charlie for a few minutes—works every time.  He simply comes to my room, and we take Charlie out, and he holds, rubs, and feeds him by hand, and that does it. It’s like a small miracle.”

Erica Hornick
4th grade teacher
Toccoa, GA

Jennifer and Erica aren’t the only teachers who have benefitted from the use of a classroom pet. Through the Pets in the Classroom grant program, over three million children in over 70,000 classrooms throughout the US and Canada have gotten to experience pet care through classroom pets. The American Pet Products Association supports the work of Pets in the Classroom. To find out more, or to apply for a grant to bring a pet into your classroom, visit http://www.petsintheclassroom.org.

Introducing the NEW Pets Forever® Stamps

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On Tuesday, August 2nd, Bob Vetere spoke at the Pets Forever® First-Day-of-Issue event hosted by Superzoo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. On behalf of the Pet Leadership Council, Bob shared remarks on responsible pet ownership while also joining in the excitement of the debut of the new pet-themed stamp!

PETS SHEETPostage stamps have highlighted dogs and cats in the past with the previously released series, Adopt a Shelter Pet promoted by Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. However, th
is is especially exciting for the pet industry because in addition to dogs and cats, these new Pets Forever stamps feature all kinds of pets, from iguanas and hermit crabs, to snakes and horses! Animal owners everywhere can share their love for their favorite companions with these new colorful postage stamps! Break out the stationary, find a new pen pal and support the new designs by purchasing your booklet online or at a USPS location near you!

With the Release of Finding Dory Comes Responsibility

With the release of Finding Dory boosting interest in fish keeping, the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) wants to make sure people are educated on the care needs of a specific pet before getting one. For example, the blue tang fish, like Dory herself, can grow up to 17 inches, requires an aquarium the size of a couch and can’t be grown for pets, they have to be taken from the ocean.Here are some core principles that back the pet industry’s commitment to responsible fishkeeping:

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  • Promote and advance aquaculture efforts for captive breeding of all marine life
  • Establish standards for responsible and sustainable collection and handling of all marine life
  • Celebrate the educational and health benefits associated with fish keeping
  • Educate consumers on responsible fish keeping

Part of being a responsible fish keeper is selecting the right fish and appropriate aquarium, understanding proper care instructions and preventing invasive species. To help educate consumers on these topics, the PLC launched a new website that includes a fun, interactive game to teach proper fishkeeping.

PLC members are also actively supporting the work of Rising Tide Conservation, whose mission is to protect coral reefs.

For other educational resources and guidelines for selecting the right fish, please visit Disney or Habitattitude.