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Book Series Highlights Animal Companionship

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The American Veterinary Medical Association  and the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative are collaborating with Purdue University Press to make essential health information freely available online.

Every day researchers gain new insights into the dynamic relationship between people and animals, discovering, for example, how dog ownership improves heart health or how interaction with guinea pigs may help socialize autistic children. However, up-to-date summaries of this evidence are difficult to access for the wide range of health professionals who could apply it to improve clinical practice, such as veterinarians, nurses, social workers and therapists.

This is the challenge that a new book series, “Pets and People,” will engage with, providing syntheses of the latest research and examples of best practice in the field. Topics and contributors will be selected by the AVMA’s Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions, which will also be responsible for managing the review and selection process.

“There is a thirst for knowledge about how our daily interactions with companion animals impact health, but a lot of misinformation exists,” Dr. Emily Paterson-Kane, animal welfare scientist in the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Division, said. “Authoritative research is too often hidden in learned journals spread across many different disciplines, and most people don’t have access. This new series will bring together the latest science with great examples of applications in the field and make these overviews openly accessible to all.”

The sections will be made available online through the “Pets and People” series website as they are finished. This immediate availability, free-of-charge to all readers, is made possible by the HABRI Foundation, which is subsidizing the production costs of the series as part of its commitment to stimulating innovation in the field.

“We know that the companionship of an animal is often good for us, and this book series will tell us why,” HABRI President Bob Vetere, said. “These volumes will provide an essential guide to the tens of thousands of information resources now cataloged by HABRI Central, the community’s online information hub.”

When all sections are completed, final books will be published by Purdue University Press in affordable print and e-book formats. Contributions to the first volumes will start to appear online in 2014 and will focus on cardiovascular health, healthy aging and depression and anxiety.

Dr. Alan Beck, professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator on the HABRI Central project, is looking forward to the new partnership.

“The evidence that pets may improve health is strong enough to justify implementation of carefully designed and monitored pet placement programs and for basic research on the nature of the human-animal bond,” he said. “HABRI Central is a way to foster the collaboration necessary to address this diverse and growing area of study, and the expansion of the publishing component of the project through this new book series promises to substantially extend the impact of research in this area.”

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