It is clear to me, as I imagine it is to you, that the presence of animals can positively impact human mental and physical health and well-being. Research across the developmental spectrum and across a wide range of populations supports this observation, but what we do not understand as yet are the circumstances under which exposure to pets may have the greatest impact, nor do we fully understand when, where, or how these effects may reveal themselves. We also need to think carefully about the animal’s side of the equation and implement programs that put animal welfare at forefront.
The Center for Human-Animal Interaction was established to further research on the human-animal bond, encourage the incorporation and evaluation of appropriate companion animals into healthcare facilities, and infuse results of research findings into academic curricula and clinical practice.
On a daily basis our Dogs on Call teams represent the practical application of what we have learned as they visit patients and staff throughout the VCU Health facilities. At times these visits play a part in our research projects, and what we learn from our research helps maximize the impact of the Dogs on Call visits.
I hope you will take some time to review these web pages that describe our mission, goals, activities, and sponsors. They reflect the efforts of many dedicated professionals who are contributing their research, clinical, educational, and other skills to further knowledge of the health benefits of interacting with companion animals.
If you would like to support the Center by joining our efforts or making a tax-deductible donation, you can obtain further information from the Gift and Support Opportunities web page, or you can contact me directly by phone or email.
With best wishes,
Nancy R. Gee, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry & Director, Center for Human Animal Interaction
School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University