Adoptable Animals

Before pets can be imported to New Zealand, they need to meet health requirements. Humans make use of many other animal species for food, including meat , milk , and eggs ; for materials, such as leather and wool ; as pets ; and as working animals for power and transport. Dogs have been used in hunting , while many terrestrial and aquatic animals are hunted for sport. Non-human animals have appeared in art from the earliest times and are featured in mythology and religion.

I cannot see the difference between a human “pet” and a mutualist where both animals benefit from association, or verging on parasitism as in some beetles and ant colonies. The beetles are fed just like they are young. On the other hand you have cattle egrets who develop life long relationships with cattle, or golden jackals and tigers who do the same. One could go on. The question is what is a pet? I think it falls into the mutualist category.

There are codes of practice for the welfare of dogs, cats, horses (including other equidae) and privately kept non-human primates. They provide owners and keepers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They can also be used in courts as evidence in cases brought before them relating to poor welfare. The codes apply to England only (Wales and Scotland have their own equivalent codes), and are in force from 6 April 2010.

The research findings are encouraging, so it makes sense to conduct more studies on how human-animal interaction influences our health. We don’t yet know precisely what types of animals influence what types of health issues (physical, mental, and social well-being) and what characteristics about human-animal interaction are most important. People who have pets know that there are many benefits to having a companion animal, but we do not yet know under what circumstances those benefits are most likely. If research shows specific health benefits under specific circumstances, that information can be used to change policies in ways that benefit even more adults and children, by influencing rules and regulations for schools, health or assisted living facilities, residential treatment centers, and other places where people’s exposure to animals is sometimes discouraged but could potentially be encouraged.

Children’s exposure to companion animals may also ease anxiety. For example, one study measured blood pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress in healthy children aged 3 to 6 at two different doctor visits for routine physicals. At one visit, a dog (unrelated to the child) was present in the room and at the other visit the dog was absent. When the dog was present, children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral distress.7 However, research on the health benefits of child and animal interaction is still limited. Further research is needed on how pets influence child development and specific health outcomes.