Human-Animal Bonds: Taking Care of Our Pets

Human-Animal Bonds: Taking Care of Our Pets

According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), there are 5 major benefits to owning a pet:

  • alleviate stress
  • fight depression
  • reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • encourage physical activity
  •  facilitate healing and resiliency

The Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption of businesses and education in 2020-21 forced many people to isolate, either alone or with their immediate household members, contributing to an increase in depression, loneliness, and stress (Robillard et al. 2020). The pandemic also saw a rise in pet adoption as more people were limited to at-home and outdoor activities. (Ho et al. 2021). During these challenging times, people often turned to their pets for comfort and support. Respondents in a HABRI survey specific to the human-animal bond relevant to the pandemic revealed that their pets were a welcome distraction, provided a structured routine throughout the day, and provided a sense of purpose for their owners. During this time, 84% of pet owners became more conscious of their pets’ health and wanted to provide even better-quality care going forward (HABRI 2020).

However, as many Americans return to school and work, pets are again home alone for long periods of time. It is important to remember that our pets can experience loneliness and separation anxiety. We benefit from our animal companions, and they rely on our care for them, throughout a lifetime commitment.

The Humane Society of the United States provides tips on how to address separation anxiety in dogs. They have more resources and stories related to pet care from their magazine All Animals. There is also a helpful blog post from the Humane Society of North Texas that focuses on cats and dogs, “How to Help Your Pet with Post-Quarantine Separation Anxiety.”

Animal Welfare

IU East will host Animal Wel-Fair on Tuesday, September 21, from 11 am to 2 pm in the Campus Quad. The Campus Library will be there with educational resources and pet-themed items to give attendees. The Office of Sustainability, Animals and Earth Club, and local animal welfare groups will showcase actions to help our domestic, farm, and wild animal-companions live healthy, happy lives.

Pet Care Resources

An informative resource for both children and adults is Kind News. This humane education magazine helps people connect with animals and build stronger, more empathetic relationships. They have a lot of free resources available online, and also offer a print magazine subscription. It is important to teach children how to care for and respect animals early and why “treating animals and people with kindness matters.” The Campus Library has compiled companion animal resources into a pet care guide that includes tips, activities, and book recommendations.There are also book suggestions and activities in our Family R.E.A.D. resource guide, about Pet Day, Be Kind to Animals, and DOGust.

Taking your pet’s emotional and mental health into consideration is important, as well as their physical health. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers useful information on animal welfare, including the importance and health benefits to having your pet spayed or neutered.  ASPCA also provides information on general pet care such as recognizing flea and tick symptoms, pet vaccinations, moving with your pet, or end of life care.

Scholarly Research

If you are interested in this topic for research purposes, you can find numerous open access articles using the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), such as

Rault J-L., Waiblinger S., Boivin X. and Hemsworth P. (2020). The power of a positive human–animal relationship for animal welfareFrontiers in Veterinary Science. 7:590867. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.590867

Grandgeorge M., Hausberger M. (2011). Human-animal relationships: from daily life to animal-assisted therapies. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 47(4).  doi: 10.4415/ANN_11_04_12. PMID: 22194075.

You can also look for articles with some of the Campus Library databases, such as ProQuest Central and Academic Search Complete. Both of these can be located from our A-Z Database List.

If you need any assistance with research on this topic, Ask Us! or click here:


Habri (2020). 5 ways the human-animal bond is improving lives during the pandemic. Human Animal Bond Research Institute.

Ho J., Hussain S. and Sparagano O. (2021). Did the COVID-19 Pandemic spark a public interest in pet adoption? Frontiers in  Veterinary Science. 8:647308. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.647308

Robillard R, Saad M, Edwards J, et al. (2020). Social, financial and psychological stress during an emerging pandemic: observations from a population survey in the acute phase of COVID-19. BMJ Open 10:e043805.

Photo credits:

Cat with newspaper by Frances Yates                                                     

Two dogs on bench by Liberty Acres United animals Rescue Sanctuary

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