Children and Animals - Annual Reviews...

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Aimnu. Rev. Public Health 19%. 17:247-57 Copyrighi 8 1996 by Aniiual Reviews Inc. All rights reserved HEALTH ENHANCEMENT AND COMPANION ANIMAL OWNERSHIP Alan M. Beck' and N. Marshall Meyers2 'School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1243 and 2Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, 1220 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 KEY WORDS: animals interaction, pets, epidemiology ABSTRACT The relationship between people and companion animals, on the one hand, explains the bites and zoonotic diseases that occur among those with companion animals and, on the other hand, appears to enhance the psychological and physi- ological well-being of many people. Presently, no less than 56% of households in the United States have animals, typical of developed countries around the world. It is well documented that people denied human contact do not thrive well. All indications are that companion animals play the role of a family member, often a member with the most desired attributes. Animals play special roles for children, aiding the teaching of nurturing behavior and appreciation of nonverbal communication. Ordinary interactions with animals can reduce blood pressure and alter survival after a heart attack. For some, pets increase the opportunities to meet people, while for others pets permit them to be alone without being lonely. Introduction In 1994, no less that 56% of U.S. households (53 million) have companion animals and more than half of these owners have more than one animal (1). In addition to animals that live in the home, 2% of the households own an average of 2.54 horses for a horse population of 4.9 million, down, in 1991, from 6.6 million horses four years earlier (2). In Australia, approximately 60% of the 6.2 million households have one or more pets; 53% of the households have either a dog or a cat (44). Examples of dog, cat, andor bird ownership in European households include Belgium (71%), France (63%), Netherlands (60%), Britain (55%), Italy (61%), Germany (West) (37%), Ireland (70%), and for all 17 European countries surveyed (52%) 247 0 163-7525196105 10-0247$05 .OO Annual Reviews Annu. Rev. Public. Health. 1996.17:247-257. Downloaded from by University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign on 04/08/08. For personal use only.
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248 BECK & MEYERS Table 1 U.S. Animal ownership and population estimates, 1991 Species Dogs Cats Caged birds Small animals Reptiles Freshwater fish Marine fish Total Households with at least one animal (percent) Estimated population of species (millions) 38.2 32.3 1.7 5.0 3.0 10.0 0.6 56.0 55.0 63.8 31.0 12.2* 7.3* 82.1* 4.6* 256.6 ‘Unpublished industty data and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sewice import data indicate subslantially greater populations. For example, current Iguana inipons approximate 800,000 animals annually; domestic femt population estimated at 5 million animals; reptiles are the fastest growing area with more than 4 million mptiles imported annually. Source:
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Children and Animals - Annual Reviews...

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