Steve Dale Petcast Episode #1: Human Animal Bond


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Dr. Magie O’Haire

Listen HERE to my debut Steve Dale Petcast. I am incredibly grateful to Merrick Pet Care and WGN Radio for the opportunity to talk renown experts to make a difference in our pets’ daily lives, and to help us to better understand them so they can better understand us. So, it’s fitting that my first effort is a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Maggie O’Haire, associate professor Human Animal Interaction Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

There is a bond with dogs, of course. But also, even with zoo animals

Proof positive of the increasing bond is that even during the pandemic, the pet industry grew. Adoptions were up and pet spending reaching a record $100 billion.

Dr. O’Haire agrees that even watching dogs and cats on the internet or going to the zoo is beneficial.  Zoos are the most visited recreational activity on the planet – wonder if that has to do with the fact that we feel good after going to the zoo. O’Haire agrees we have an innate tendency to want to be a part of nature, “its a biological drive to seek it out any way that you can.”

I suggest as smart as we are, dogs understand us better than we understand them.

Dogs have been detecting cancers, as one example, without being trained to detect….which they are now being trained for with success.

Service Dogs and PTSD

The OHAIRE Group is collaborating with service dog provider K9s For Warriors to evaluate the effects of service dogs on veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma and their partners/spouses. Details on Dr. O’Haire’s work are here.

She says we know our veterans are suffering. According to the VA, a higher percentage of military personnel than ever are returning from combat with PTSD. More than 400,000 are now being treated for PTSD. A part of that may be that symptoms are being recognized more often by medical professionals, and there’s more public awareness regarding the syndrome.

No matter, various sources indicate that soldiers with PTSD are far more likely to commit suicide and also be unemployed. Suicide rates are off the charts for soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, with nearly 40 attempts daily, and around half that number succeed at ending their own lives.  O’Haire discusses the difference service dogs make in these lives.

While the government provides support for service dogs for returning soldiers with physical needs, psychiatric needs have not been accepted. O’Haire’s work may change all that – I hope so.

Hope you enjoyed this first Steve Dale Petcast.