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HABRI Honors Winners of Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards


Press release: HABRI

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) recently announced the winners of the inaugural Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards, which recognizes companies and organizations with innovative products and programs designed to advance the human-animal bond and create a more pet-friendly society.

“As the Presenting Sponsor for the Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards, PetSmart Charities is proud to celebrate organizations that have gone above and beyond to strengthen the connection between people and pets,” said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. “This year’s honorees support the deep integration of pets into people’s lives, and their efforts will make a difference for many pets — and those who love and care for them.”

Nominations were selected by an expert committee of pet care community leaders assembled by HABRI. Winners were honored at a special awards ceremony held in conjunction with the annual SuperZoo show in Las Vegas. The 2022 Human Animal Bond Innovation Award winners are:

Product & Service Category: Health Alliance Medical Plans

Health Alliance Medical Plans offers health insurance plans across multiple states in the Midwest region of the United States. As of January 2022, Health Alliance Medical Plans became the first human insurance company to provide fully-paid access to 24-hour veterinary telehealth for 30,000 Medicare Advantage plan members in three regional offerings.

“It’s a fact that pets play a tremendous role in human well-being,” said Heidi Sirota, president and chief pet officer of Nationwide’s pet insurance division. “As a proud sponsor of HABRI’s Innovation Awards, Nationwide applauds Health Alliance Medical Plans for advancing the human-animal bond by making critical health resources available to pet families.”

Workplace Culture Category: American Heart Association

The American Heart Association’s Best Friend Fridays campaign is part of the Association’s Healthy Bond for Life initiative to raise awareness about the physical and mental health benefits of pet companionship. Each Friday throughout the summer, American Heart Association employees are encouraged to talk about their pets, share photos, welcome pets on video calls, take breaks with their pets and more, all with the goal of normalizing pet ownership and pet-friendly workplaces. As a way to spread the message far and wide, the American Heart Association provides valuable resources for companies and organizations to implement their own workplace Best Friend Fridays.

“As the Workplace Culture Award Sponsor, Zoetis was inspired to see the nominees going above and beyond to support the human-animal bond in the workplace, and we are honored to recognize the outstanding winner,” said Dr. Oliver Knesl, BSc BSc (Hons) MSc BVSc MRCVS CSAM, executive director, U.S. diagnostics, veterinary professional services at Zoetis. “The American Heart Association’s Best Friend Fridays program encourages pets to be a part of their employees’ workday on a weekly basis, and goes one step further by educating employees about the many science-based health benefits of the human-animal bond.”

Public Service Category: Pet Peace of Mind 

Pet Peace of Mind is the only national program providing a care model for the pets of seriously ill patients in hospice, including helping pets find a loving new home when necessary. Pet Peace of Mind’s program trains hospices to support each patient’s pet care needs in practical ways by deploying trained local volunteers. Each year, Pet Peace of Mind programs serve more than 3,500 patients and meet the needs of 4,000 pets across the United States, responding to an essential need for this type of support.

“We were impressed with the innovation, commitment and compassion of all of the nominees for the first Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. “The three winners are not only offering valuable programs to build the human-animal bond, they are also setting an example for those that want to create a more pet-friendly world.”

HABRI also recognizes Supporting Sponsors, Wellness Pet Company, Morris Animal Foundation and the World Pet Association, who together helped bring this inaugural recognition program to fruition

“Wellness Pet is a proud sponsor of HABRI’s Human Animal Bond Innovation Awards, which is such a wonderful opportunity to recognize and celebrate companies and organizations that aren’t necessarily in the pet care space, but who are doing great work to support the human-animal bond,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director, consumer experience, Wellness Pet Company.

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