The Human Animal Bond is the basis for small animal practice; without the bond there would be no small animal practice.
When the responsibilities, costs or other factors outweigh the benefits, people look to ways to end the relationship, euthanasia or abandonment takes place.
Vets need also to be aware that when there is a strong bond, the death or loss of the pet does not end the bond. People can and do feel bonded to past pets for many years.
Veterinarians need to be aware of the human animal bond in every decision they make, pets affect people in different ways.
Vets need to assess the bonds that pets have with different people in the family when helping people make decisions about treatment options. For example if the pet is considered a creature in the back yard owners would be unwilling to spend much money, but if the pet is integral to the person’s life it is useful to consider all options available.
Pets benefit society in numerous ways…
It has been shown that pets improve the lives of many different groups of people such as the elderly, children and handicapped people. Pets benefit us because they offer unconditional love, or better said they love us without regard to our human failings, what might be important to humans is not regarded essential by pets, people who have poor verbal communication skills can still communicate effectively with their pets.
Veterinarians support the principle of puppy preschools as important step in improving the human animal bond. Puppy Preschool takes advantage of the critical learning phase of puppies between 6-16 weeks, encouraging good social behaviour and responsible pet ownership.
Veterinarians need to help communicate the benefits of pets and lobby for better environment and infrastructure for keeping pets.
The following is an extract from an article by Boris Levinson, considered to be the father of human animal bond movement:
“During the last fifty years a quiet revolution has occurred in our understanding of our relationship with animal kingdom.
It has become quite apparent that our relationship with the animal kingdom contains the nexus of our relationship with nature and human beings. A new understanding has arisen that we are responsible for all life, animals as well as human; that our survival depends on preserving animals and seeing them as our friends and equals. We have come to see that flora and fauna, including man, exist in an indissoluble bond in nature which we destroy at our peril.
We have come to some realizations about our world that leave us feeling alone in an inhospitable universe. We no longer see our planet as the centerpiece but as a mere speck in the whirling dynamics of the expanding universe. We know that the earth is evolving like a living being and that the only constant in this universe is change. We realize that we are not even a small pebble on the beach. As individuals we are not very important and our lives are only a second in the stretch of eternity. We feel lonely. We need companions, friends, and allies.
Our natural allies are animals, our fellow sojourners on earth. Without them we would perish. We must therefore be responsible for animals, learn to understand them and cooperate with them. We must make life happier, more desirable for them and thus, in turn, for ourselves. ”
Generally recognized as one of the ‘founding fathers” of the human/companion animal bond movement, Boris M. Levinson, Ph.D., pioneered the use of animals in psychotherapy with his “co-therapist” dog, Jingles. He was the author of numerous books and articles on pets and their roles in human development and child psychotherapy. Prior to his death in 1984, he was Professor Emeritus of psychology at Yeshiva University in New York and a fellow in numerous professional societies.