Companion animals and public health: Why it’s time to take them seriously.

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GRF One Health Summit 2012, Davos: Presentation by Andrea Meisser, IEMT-Switzerland, Institute for interdisciplinary research on human-animal relations, Zurich

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Companion animals and public health: Why it’s time to take them seriously.

  1. 1. GRF One Health Summit 2012Institut für interdisziplinäre Erforschung der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung DavosWE 3.2: Public Health and Livelihood Companion animals and public health: Why it’s time to take them seriously Dennis C. TURNER Andrea MEISSER IEMT-Switzerland Institute for interdisciplinary research on human-animal relations, Zurich
  2. 2. One characteristic we value highly in animals isthat they are – utterly authentic.As humans, we long for that authenticity and sense of self.Being able to have some sort of encounter with them isimportant for our own sense of being. Ian McCallum GRF One Health Summit 2012 2
  3. 3. Bangkok is flooding, and its citizens are puttingpets first.As the floodwaters rise in Bangkok and its residents begin to flee, they arentforgetting their pets. Whether street dogs or household animals, humans areleaving no pets behind. Daniel Berehulak AFP/Getty Images, October 28, 2011, http://www.globalpost.com/ GRF One Health Summit 2012 3
  4. 4. Overview1. The role of companion animals2. The importance of companion animals • In/to the general public • Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that public3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in public health • US NIH, NICHD • EU FP7 Program CALLISTO “Companion animals and zoonoses”4. Added value to the One Health Approach (IEMT’s position in Switzerland) GRF One Health Summit 2012 4
  5. 5. 1. The role of companion animalsCompanion animals have accompanied humans for at least 15’000 years GRF One Health Summit 2012 5
  6. 6. 1. The role of companion animalsCompanion animals have accompanied humans for at least 15’000 years are kept in all cultures of the world irrespective of socio-economic status are considered as full family members in 70 - 90% of the people surveyed GRF One Health Summit 2012 6
  7. 7. 1. The role of companion animalsCompanion animals have accompanied humans for at least 15’000 years are kept in all cultures of the world irrespective of socio-economic status are considered as full family members in 70 - 90% of the peoples surveyed cause mourning at their loss, lasting from several days to months GRF One Health Summit 2012 7
  8. 8. 1. The role of companion animalsCompanion animals,especially, but not only dogs, and later cats: have accompanied humans for at least 15’000 years are kept in all cultures of the world irrespective of socio-economic status are considered as full family members in 70 - 90% of the peoples surveyed cause mourning at their loss, lasting from several days to months have such a high social status that human disaster relief organizations have started to work together with animal welfare organizations to coordinate future efforts to reduce risks (e.g. Katrina, Fukushima) share environment as well as lifestyle with their human companions (zoo- noses, development of pharmaceutics, early warning as important One Health aspects) GRF One Health Summit 2012 8
  9. 9. 2. The importance of companion animals - In/to the general public Acquisition of a dog or cat significantly reduces complaints about minor health problems and improves measurable Quality of Life over 10 months (Brit. J. Royal Soc. Med.) Dog & cat owners have significantly higher survival rates than non-owners one year after hospitalization for heart attacks (Amer. J. of Cardiology) GRF One Health Summit 2012 9
  10. 10. 2. The importance of companion animals - In/to the general public Dog & cat owners have lower levels of accepted risk factors (bp, plasma cholesterol etc.) for cardiovascular disease than non-owners and more physical activity (Med. J. Australia) Over one-year pet owners visit their primary physicians significantly less often than non-owners (Australia) and the probability of facing any health costs is lowest for cat owners, then dog owners, but not for owners of other pets (Turner D. and Gutzwiller F., IEMT-Switzerland) GRF One Health Summit 2012 10
  11. 11. 2. The importance of companion animals - In/to the general public Negative moods (depression) of owners are improved by cats (Anthrozoös) Social facilitation for more contact with other people is increased with pet ownership (Wood L., Australia, in US NIH reports) GRF One Health Summit 2012 11
  12. 12. 2. The importance of companion animals - Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that publicSignificant improvements with AAT have been documented in: Aphasic psychiatric patients/non-communicative clients in psychotherapy GRF One Health Summit 2012 12
  13. 13. 2. The importance of companion animals - Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that publicSignificant improvements with AAT have been documented in: Aphasic psychiatric patients/non-communicative clients in psychotherapy Persistent Vegetative State (PVS); appalic syndrome GRF One Health Summit 2012 13
  14. 14. 2. The importance of companion animals - Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that publicSignificant improvements with AAT have been documented in: Aphasic psychiatric patients/non-communicative clients in psychotherapy Persistent Vegetative State (PVS); apallic syndrome Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD); Conduct Disorder (CD) Reducing impulsivity/aggression and raising the level of social integration in school classes GRF One Health Summit 2012 14
  15. 15. 2. The importance of companion animals - Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that publicSignificant improvements with AAT have been documented in: Attention span and learning in children with Down syndrome Level of empathy toward people and humane attitudes of children toward animals (long-lasting) Autistic children Stress reduction in insecurely attached children, allowing therapy Alzheimer patients (long-term recall, communication with environment) GRF One Health Summit 2012 15
  16. 16. 2. The importance of companion animals - Therapeutically/pedagogically to subgroups of that publicSignificant improvements with AAT have been documented in: Alzheimer patients (long-term recall, communication with environment) Neurological/motor dysfunction (hippotherapy; ergotherapy with dogs) Quality of Life of physically challenged persons with assistance dogs GRF One Health Summit 2012 16
  17. 17. 3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in publichealth - US NIH, NICHD In October 2008, the US National Institutes of Health held an invitational conference in Washington D.C. (IEMT was represented by Turner), after which the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the US National Institute of Nursing Research, together with Mars Inc.’s Waltham Centre for Pet Care (UK) entered a public-private partnership to encourage research on human-animal interaction, especially as it relates to child development, health and the therapeutic use of animals with children and adolescents. This resulted in a Call for Grant Proposals totalling USD 2,5 Million p.A. and official recognition of the importance of the role of companion animals in human health and wellbeing. This has helped encourage similar initiatives in Europe and Asia, currently in the pipeline. GRF One Health Summit 2012 17
  18. 18. 3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in publichealth- EU FP7 Program CALLISTO “Companion animals and zoonoses” European Commission, DG SANCO/Research Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology Call: FP7-KBBE-2011-5Coalition under the leadership of FVE, Brussels, including:  Federation of Veterinarians of Europe FVE, Belgium  University of Copenhagen UCPH, Denmark  IAHAIO, USA (Represented by Turner)  Erasmus Medical Center EMC, The Netherlands  World Small Animal Veterinary Association WSAVA, Canada  Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations, France  Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale “G. Caporale”, Italy  Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel GRF One Health Summit 2012 18
  19. 19. 3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in publichealth- EU FP7 Program CALLISTO “Companion animals and zoonoses” European Commission, DG SANCO/Research Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology Call: FP7-KBBE-2011-5 CALLISTO Companion Animals multisectoriaL interprofessionaL Interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonosesHighly ranked and granted without cuts: € 1 Mio (3 years, Jan. 2012) GRF One Health Summit 2012 19
  20. 20. 3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in publichealth- EU FP7 Program CALLISTO “Companion animals and zoonoses” 7 CALLISTO Expert Advisory Groups: GRF One Health Summit 2012 20
  21. 21. 3. Recognition of the role of companion animals in publichealth- EU FP7 Program CALLISTO “Companion animals and zoonoses”IAHAIO’s stated reason for participation and the main task of the EAG“Sociology and Welfare” under Turner’s chairmanship, is to ensure thatthe coalition prepares factually correct information about zoonoses riskswith companion animals without resorting to “scare tactics” alarmingpet owners, and to see that the beneficial aspects of living withcompanion animals are not ignored.This will require a balancing act between ethical, emotional andepidemiological arguments that in the end favors healthy human-animalrelationships. GRF One Health Summit 2012 21
  22. 22. 4. Added value to the One Health Approach (IEMT’s position in Switzerland)How the field of Human-Animal Interactions provides added value tothe One Health Approach: IEMT’s 6 postulates1. The bio-psychosocial approach of modern health promotion is ideally transposed in the human-companion animal relationship.2. The health promoting benefits of human-animal relationships can be increased by appropriate political and societal regulations. All persons, not only the animal friends, profit from good companion animal management at the community level. Therefore, we plan today for the needs of tomorrow.3. Companion animals play an important role in supporting independence and mobility. Owning a dog and/or walking with it promote feelings of security. GRF One Health Summit 2012 22
  23. 23. 3. Added value to the One Health Approach (IEMT’s position in Switzerland)How the field of Human-Animal Interactions provides added value tothe One Health Approach: IEMT’s 6 postulates4. Research demonstrates that owning a companion animal increases physical activity and can thereby reduce the health problems associated with obesity and stress.5. Human-companion animal relationships can contribute to reducing our health system costs.6. In a society in which an increasing number of people living alone face the problems of loneliness, isolation and depression, initiatives to promote contact with companion animals are a true investment in the community. GRF One Health Summit 2012 23
  24. 24. GRF One Health Summit 2012Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Human-Animal Relations Davos WE 3.2: Public Health and Livelihood Take Home Message • Companion animals contribute significantly to • maintaining and improving human health. • The potential for public health and health economy that lies in a sound human-animal relationship is huge and yet unexploited. • A transdisciplinary One Health approach is vital to illustrate and promote its added value. Dennis C. TURNER Andrea MEISSER
  25. 25. Thank you for your attention!GRF One Health Summit 2012 25

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