Letter from CAIRC
August 2001 Vol.5 No.4

The 9th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions
Coming Soon
Worldwide Expectations High for September Event in Rio

A Theme in keeping with the first conference of the 21st century
“People and Animals : a Global Perspective for the 21st Century”

The 9th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for three days from September 13th through the 15th, presented by the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO). Beginning with the 8th conference, the event has been co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, and is the largest event in this field of research. Over 500 delegates from more than 25 countries are expected to participate: researchers and scholars, practitioners, staff of relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies, members of national and international professional organizations, and media representatives.

This three-day Rio conference will host presentations that are expected to examine all aspects of our relationships with animals including: historical, cultural, cross-cultural, demographic, public health, veterinary, therapeutic, psychological, sociological and ethological. This conference is the first of its kind to be held in the 21st century, and has been given the theme, “People and Animals: a Global Perspective for the 21st Century”. The objective is to transcend cultural differences and geographical barriers in thinking about human-animal relationships — to consider the nature of that relationship in the 21st century in light of the issues involved in keeping companion animals, and to lend support to people facing the difficulties involved in spreading awareness of the need to build a society in which people and animals can coexist.

The IAHAIO, host of the conference, is an international organization 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. At present, there are 28 member associations from various countries. The national member from Japan is the Japanese Animal Hospital Association (JAHA), and the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) is an affiliate member.

All around the world, interest in this field is growing, reflecting an ever-increasing need. Under these circumstances, IAHAIO is fulfilling its calling of advancing research into the relationship between humans and animals and the role of animals in our lives, as well as making it possible to share the resulting information more easily. The international conferences are a part of that effort. Held once every three years, they have so far been sited in London (1977), Philadelphia (1980), Vienna (1983), Boston (1983), Monaco (1989), Montreal (1992), Geneva (1995) and Prague (1998). The upcoming conference in Rio de Janeiro will be the first one to be held in South America.

New research from a number of countries on AAT/AAA
Presentations to include work on AAE, a 3rd area generating much interest

A great many research findings have proven that the relationships between humans and animals have a major impact on health both mental and physical. There are findings, for instance, that the survival rate is higher for pet owners recovering from heart attacks than it is for recovering patients who do not keep pets. And many findings have also indicated that pets can help to reduce blood pressure and pulse rate, as well as to relieve loneliness, depression, fear and anxiety. Research is also well advanced on the beneficial effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal-Assisted Activity (AAA) for victims of disorders such as Down's syndrome and autism.

At the same time, another field that is attracting much interest recently is Animal-Assisted Education (AAE). As a 3rd area of specialization after AAT and AAA, AAE will be the subject of presentations on cutting-edge research at the Rio conference. One major problem all around the world is the increasingly young age at which criminal behavior manifests itself, and the increasing brutality of it, indicating the increasing need for education that focuses on the nurturing of children’s mind. As research in this field advances, we can anticipate that the study of the relationship between humans and animals will play an increasingly important role. In light of this fact, it is clear that this conference is the object of much anticipation from all over the world.

Another feature of the Rio conference that stands out is the increase of research presenters from Japan. In the previous conference 3 years ago, there were only two presentations from Japan, but this year there are 10 — 6 oral presentations and 4 poster presentations. CAIRC Chairman Dr. Yoichi Shoda (professor emeritus, Tokyo University) has high hopes for the upcoming Rio conference because among the researchers making these presentations, Dr. Tomoko Saito and Ms.Yuki Koba are two past recipients of the CAIRC research scholarship on the study of the relationship between humans and companion animals.

According to Dr. Shoda, “99 people attended the conference from Japan in Prague 3 years ago. Japan was represented by the second largest number of attendees, after host country the Czech Republic, although sent one researcher who gave an oral presentation. It was slightly disappointing to see such a small contribution then, but this time there will be no fewer than six researchers with oral research presentations, some of whom are recipients of the CAIRC scholalship.

It certainly will leave me with an unforgettable impression to see these researchers whom we have been fortunate enough to be able to support give presentations at such an important conference. In addition, many of the presentations from Japan have to do with assistance dogs including service dogs. Recently, recognition of the importance of these service dogs has been increasing, and as more progress is made on this theme, we will begin to see many new facets of this area of research. I think this is very important. I eagerly look forward to seeing each and every one of the presentations at the upcoming Rio conference.”

Another person of note who is looking forward to the conference is Prof. Yoshihiro Hayashi, chairman of the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations. According to Prof. Hayashi, “A number of topics will be touched on in the plenary speeches, including those centering around children and the elderly. Industrialized nations are currently facing the ongoing aging of their populations together with a decline in birthrates. As the elderly segment of the population increases, the urgency of the situation makes it a major issue that must be taken on by society as a whole.

Until now, methodology and information within the study of human-animal relationships has been accumulated by individuals, NGOs and other groups. In the future, as the issue becomes one of society as a whole, the decision of how to approach it on a national policy level is expected to become an issue of prime importance. In this light, the Rio conference is the subject of much anticipation. I think the content of the presentations will be abundant and fitting for the first conference of the 21st centur

Plenary speakers and topics, and Japanese research presenters
The plenary speakers and topics, as well as the topics of the presentations given by Japanese researchers are as follows.

— Plenary speakers and topics —

Dr. Tomoko Hara-Takayanagi, MD (Japan)
  “Changing cultural perspectives to include service animals in the 21st century: lessons from Japan”
Dr. James Lynch, PhD (USA)
  “Human health and the influence of companion animals”
Prof. Dr. Leopolde Estol (Argentina)
  “Veterinary education in Latin America in the 21st century: including companion animals and their relationships with people”
Prof. Alan M.Beck, Sc.D. (USA)
  “The importance of companion animals IN CITIES and the different types of relationships which can exist with such animals”
Prof. Dr. Erhard Olbrich (Germany)
  “The importance of companion animals for the elderly in the 21st century”
Dr. Boris Cyrulnik, M.D. (France)
  “Psychological dimensions of the human-animal bond, especially among children”
Dr. Carlos Drews (Costa Rica)
  “Changing attitudes towards wildlife and companion animals”
Mrs. Joy Leney & Mr. Marco Ciampi (UK and Brazil)
  “NGO and governmental agencies working together to improve companion animal welfare in the 21st century”

— Topics of presentations by Japanese researchers —

Dr. Tomoko Saito (a part-time lecturer, College of Medical Technology & Nursing, University of Tsukuba)
  “The relationship between keeping a companion animal, instrumental activities of daily living and use of antihypertensive drugs: a study of Japanese elderly living at home”
Dr. Ayaka Miura, PhD (a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, who belongs to the Faculty of Applied Biological Science, Hiroshima University)
  “Childhood experiences and attitudes towards animals: A comparison of young adults in Japan and the UK”
Ms. Yuki Koba (a PhD candidate, Graduate School of Biosphere Sciences, Hiroshima University)
  “A survey on keeping animals in Japanese kindergartens: Educational benefits and risks”
Prof. Kenji Kawakita (a professor, Department of Physiology, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine)
  “The utility of facial expressions in the evaluation of the effects of therapeutic riding”
Ms. Keiko Yamazaki (Companion Animal Study Group 'Go'/ an executive board member, Chairman Task Force on Education, the Japanese Service Dog Resource Academy / an executive board member, the Canine Good Citizen Association)
  “Comparative study of social participation criteria for canines as related to service dog access issues”
Ms. Keiko Yamazaki (Companion Animal Study Group 'Go'/ an executive board member, Chairman Task Force on Education, the Japanese Service Dog Resource Academy)
  “Service dog trainer education program”
Ms. Keiko Yamazaki (Companion Animal Study Group 'Go'/ an AAA coordinator, Yamazaki Psychiatric Hospital)
  “AAT-patient selection for a pilot program in a care center for the mentally retarded” (poster presentation)
Dr. Tomoko Takayanagi (the executive director, the Japanese Service Dog Resource Academy / an associate professor, Section of Environmental Parasitology, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical & Dental University / a physician)
  “Safety standards of service dog and canine good citizens-the zoonotic risk for public health-“(poster presentation)
Dr. Tomoko Takayanagi (the executive director, the Japanese Service Dog Resource Academy / an associate professor, Section of Environmental Parasitology, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical & Dental University /a physician)
  “Task requirement as assistive technology to service dogs for the people with mobility disability” (poster presentation)
Dr. Yasuyo Takayanagi (the President, Aichi Association for Visually Impared/the director, Hongo Eye Clinic)
  “Guide dogs in rehabilitation of the visually impaired in Japan” (poster presentation)

For further information, please see the IAHAIO website at http://www.iahaio.org, or send e-mail to the IAHAIO Secretariat at rio2001@i-et-e.fr.