What's in it for the companion animal? Pet attachment and college students' behaviors toward pets

Elsie R Shore, Deanna K Douglas, Michelle L Riley
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science: JAAWS 2005, 8 (1): 1-11
Research on the human-nonhuman animal bond has focused primarily on its advantages to the human. The purpose of this study is to investigate behaviors of caregivers (owners) of companion animals (pets) and to examine the relationship between such behaviors and scores on a pet attachment scale. Participants were 501 largely nontraditional (older, married, employed full-time) college students living with a pet dog or cat. The study categorized owner behaviors as essential, standard, enriched, or luxury care. Almost all participants reported engaging in essential care behaviors, with numbers declining from category to category. Pet attachment scores appeared related to standard and enriched care behaviors but not to essential care. Too few participants reported doing luxury care behaviors to link them to attachment. The results suggest that even pet owners reporting low attachment provide beneficial care and attention to their pets and that pet attachment may be of limited use when looking at the benefit of the human-animal bond to the companion animal.

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