The preliminary study results were shared during a presentation recently at the North American Veterinary Community Conference in Orlando.
The study compared service dog recipients and their family members with people and their families who are on a waiting list for service dogs.
“Even though the functional tasks service dogs perform to help with physical disabilities are well-recognized, the emotional and psychosocial effects of service dogs are largely unknown,” said Maggie O’Haire, assistant professor of human-animal interaction in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine and leader of the Organization for Human-Animal Interaction Research.
This new research project on the human-animal bond is part of a four-year, primary research study of the emotional and health impacts that service dogs have on their recipients and family members. The goal of the three-part study is to produce groundbreaking, evidence-based research documenting the “pet effect,” – or impact of the human-animal bond on mental health and well-being.