Rev. Public Health 19%.
AND COMPANION ANIMAL
Alan M. Beck' and N. Marshall
'School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana
and 2Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council,
19th Street, N.W.,
animals interaction, pets, epidemiology
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
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.
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
horse population of 4.9 million, down, in 1991,
from 6.6 million horses four years earlier (2).
In Australia, approximately
of the 6.2 million households have one or
more pets; 53% of the households have either a dog or a cat
of dog, cat, andor bird ownership in European households include Belgium
(71%), France (63%), Netherlands (60%), Britain
Italy (61%), Germany
(West) (37%), Ireland (70%), and for all 17 European countries surveyed (52%)
0 163-7525196105 10-0247$05
Annu. Rev. Public. Health. 1996.17:247-257. Downloaded from arjournals.annualreviews.org
by University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign on 04/08/08. For personal use only.