Pets and Children Academic Research Presented by UK Experts

Leading UK academics and companion animal experts set to present the latest research exploring Animal-Assisted Interventions on child health and development

The impact of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) on the development, health and wellbeing of children and young people, is the focus of a session to be held at the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) 2021 Virtual Conference on Sunday 19th September.

Leading UK and companion animal experts are set to present the latest findings in the ‘Pets and Children’ session, the first of three different sessions, at this year’s SCAS Virtual Conference. Expert speakers, including Professor Joanne M. Williams from the Children, Adolescents and Animals Research (CAAR) and Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, Matthew Robinson MSci, PGCE from Pets As Therapy, and Lesley Winton from Fostering Compassion will share latest updates of evidence-based AAI research and practice in child-animal interaction and interventions. These will include evidence of the impact that living with companion animals has on children’s development and in particular the role of attachment to pets for child mental health and wellbeing; the response and outcomes in trials of the video-conferencing delivery model of the popular Pets As Therapy Read2Dogs service; and the links between animal abuse, child abuse and interpersonal violence, and latest efforts being made to reverse the cycle of abuse that often exists in these circumstances.

Child playing with cat at home. Kids and pets. Little boy feeding and petting cute ginger color cat. Cats tree and scratcher in living room interior. Children play and feed kitten. Home animals.

As SCAS Chair, Dr Elizabeth Ormerod BVMS, explains, “The SCAS 2021 Virtual Conference’s goal is to bring together a multidisciplinary group of professionals working with AAI to deliver pioneering and effective outcomes in human health and education while protecting human and animal welfare. Professionals with varied and complementary skills who would like to share their knowledge and experiences as well as learn from the latest research in the area from international experts.”

She adds, “The Conference is a key platform to discuss scientific research and evidence and for specialists to showcase the benefits of AAI in a tangible manner, sharing their knowledge with other researchers and industry or policy makers in their field. Building a more robust evidence base around AAI will hopefully encourage greater understanding and uptake of this therapeutic approach that can literally change lives.”

Two other sessions will also feature at the 2021 Conference. These include older people, and those with mental health problems. Each of these group sessions will open with a research-based presentation, followed by two presentations from organisations working with the client group.

The conference will conclude with a panel discussion chaired by Emeritus Professor Marie-José Enders-Slegers looking at the integration of research and practice. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the experts throughout the day.

Further details, including how to register, can be found on the SCAS website.

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