|"8th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions"
Prague around the Corner
| IAHAIO Prague Conference Theme,
"The Changing Roles of Animals in Society"
10th to 12th of this year, the "8th International Conference
on Human-Animal Interactions" will be held in Prague in the Czech
Republic. Over 800 people from 25 countries, including researchers
from various fields, specialists from organizations involved in the
study of the relationship between humans and animals, mass media and
so on, are expected to take part in this epoch-making international
conference. Under the theme of "The Changing Roles of Animals
in Society," this conference will present reports on the historical,
cultural, demographic, public-health, veterinary, therapeutic, psychological,
sociological and ethological aspects of our relationships with animals.
This 8th conference will be of major interest to researchers and to
practitioners in the field of relationships with animals and the roles
they play in our lives -looking at the past, the present and the future
especially barriers and challenges to future change, along with
a variety of information exchange opportunities.
This convention will be held by IAHAIO,
the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations,
which was founded in 1990 to gather together national associations
and related organizations interested in advancing the understanding
and appreciation of the link between animals and humans. These conferences
were first held in London in 1977, and continued in Philadelphia,
Vienna, Boston, Monaco and other cities. This time the local Czech
pet organization AOVZ and the French companion animal information
and research organization AFIRAC have taken on the duties of hosting
The IAHAIO, has affiliates from 21 groups
around the world including the Japanese Animal Hospital Welfare Association
in Japan. The Association's Secretariat is based at the Delta Society
in Renton, Washington, USA with representatives from four sub-committees
coordinating membership, conferences, projects and finance from other
associations around the globe. The Association's main role is to provide
a helpful coordinating structure between all member countries. Now
worldwide interest, support and needs for this young science, the
"Study of Human-Animal Interactions", are increasing. It is in planning
for the development of this field that the role of the IAHAIO becomes
all the more important.
The Great Possibilities Held Out in the Field of
"The Study of Human-Animal Interactions"
of the "Study of Human-Animal Interactions" has become relatively
secure in Japan as well. In 1994, the "Society for the Study
of Human-Animal Relations" (Chairman: Yoshihiro Hayashi, Professor
of the University of Tokyo) was established, and in 1997, the "Human-Animal
Interactions Study (Anthrozoology)" laboratory was created by
Professor Mitsuko Masui at Azabu University. Today it can be said
that this field is continuing to grow.
Recently, it is said that there is a "pet
boom," but with the decrease in the number of children and the increase
in the number of elderly in the graying society of modern Japan, the
importance of dogs or cats as companions to children with no brothers
or sisters, or as a family member for the elderly who are losing contact
with society, is not insignificant. So not only for children and the
elderly, but also for any isolated modern-day person, dogs and cats
are increasingly taking on the role of therapist. It is perhaps this
background that is the primary factor drawing such great interest
in the field of the "Study of Human-Animal Interactions".
On the other hand, not only the external
psychological benefits, but also the health benefits of pets are becoming
understood. Let us introduce the results of the large-scale investigation
presented in 1992. This research was conducted on 5,741 people between
the ages of 20 and 59 attending a screening clinic in Melbourne, Australia,
where pet ownership or the lack thereof and the risk factor of cardiovascular
disease (risk factors refer to physiological, behavioral, or environmental
elements that are associated with an increased likelihood of developing
a specific disease) was investigated and comparatively analyzed. According
to this investigation, the 784 pet owners, in comparison to the 4,957
people who did not own pets, had lower systolic blood pressures and
plasma triglycerides than the non-owners. And male pet owners' had
significantly lower systolic blood pressure, plasma cholesterol and
plasma triglyceride levels than the non-owners.
A report on the effects of pet ownership
on people with vascular disease was also presented in 1980. According
to this study, for people entering the hospital with heart disease,
the survival rate one year after leaving the hospital was higher for
pet owners than for those who did not own pets.
Only 5.7% of the 53 pet owners compared with 28.2% of the 39 patients
who did not own pets died within one year of hospitalization. Pet
ownership other than dogs was also investigated, and the results showed
a higher rate of survival for those pet owners as well.
In recent years, many studies like this
are continuing in the field of the "Study of Human-Animal Interactions."
As in this year's international conference theme, "The Changing Roles
of Animals in Society," there are great possibilities held out for
this field to be able to support society in a variety of ways.
Three research members for the "Study of
Human-Companion Animal Interactions" will be sent to the Prague Conference!
As reported in the June edition of our
newsletter, three members on "Study of Human-Companion Animal Interactions"
research scholarships from the "Companion Animal Research and Information
Center" have been asked to attend the "IAHAIO Prague Conference."
At present, all three are making progress in their respective research
and experiments. At this time, all three members receiving scholarships
have happily agreed to attend and speak about their aspirations at
the Prague Conference.
"Looking into Stress for Dogs Participating
in Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activity" (Ms. Yoshiko Uchida)
"I am very pleased that I could receive
a scholarship. After spending a year studying abroad in the U.S. in
1995 and returning to Japan, I feel that the field of the "Study of
Human-Animal Interactions" is really starting to take hold in people's
minds. I own a dog myself and take part in animal-assisted activities,
and volunteer groups are also increasing. However, for the dogs used
in these activities, only the convenience of the people is considered.
Whether or not the dogs feel stress has not been fully researched.
If possible, I would like to see that only dogs that feel no stress
and are happy to participate are used, and to this end I am researching
the stress levels for dogs used in animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted
activities. I am really looking forward to attending lectures by people
on the cutting edge of our field at the Prague Conference this year.
I also expect much from the results of new research."
Research theme: "On Choosing Dogs
Used in Animal-Assisted Therapy." Assistant Professor
of Rakuno Gakuen University. Born and living in Hokkaido.
36 years old.
"The Great Possibilities Companion
Animals have for the Health of the Elderly" (Mr. Masaru Uechi)
"At present, I am conducting research on the elderly living
at home in a town in Ibaraki Prefecture. In this research I am examining the connection
of the single custom of keeping pets as life-style customs on health maintenance.
In actuality, as my research grant is insufficient, my studies were in a difficult
situation, so I was very happy I could receive this scholarship. As there has
been only a little research in this field on the elderly at home, I believe the
importance of the possibilities in the relationship between human and companion
animals in my research will become clear. As for the Prague Conference, I am looking
forward to exchanging information with other researchers from around the world.
I am also very interested in where research methodologies and research reports
are being reported."
| Research theme: "The Effects of Companion Animals on
the Health of Elderly People Living at Home - Using IADL (Instrumental Activities
of Daily Living) and Biological Indicators as Criteria." Doctoral student,
Tsukuba University Graduate School. Born in Okinawa Prefecture and living in Tsukuba,
Ibaraki Prefecture. 28 years old.
"Imminent Common Problem Activities for Dogs
at Grooming Parlors" (Ms. Yukiko Arakawa)
"Previously, I had often heard of problem activities
at grooming parlors. However, when I actually looked into it, I realized
there was even more problem behavior than I had expected. With the
help of my co-researcher, Ms. Kitagawa, who is a trimmer, I thought
we would analyze questionnaires distributed to trimmers about dogs
at grooming parlors. I decided to look into the background of the
type of problem activities, the dog breed, the dog sex and so on.
To tell the truth, I am a bit nervous participating in the Prague
Conference. I am sure there will be many themes I am interested in,
but I am worried about how it will turn out. But, since I heard Ms.
Kitagawa will be attending this conference, I am a little relieved.
Research theme: "Research and Study
of the Problem Behavior of Dogs in Grooming Parlors."
Student of Azabu University. Born in Fukushima Prefecture
and living in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. 21 years