Experts and policymakers discuss the value of pets
Dr Sandra McCune
Sir Roger Gale
On January 31st in London, pet welfare and human-animal interaction (HAI) experts met with political stakeholders and policymakers for an in-depth discussion of the recent report “The Economic Impact of Companion Animals in the UK’ . The report is a collation of previous research in this area, including WALTHAM HAI science, and identifies clear economic and societal benefits of pets, concluding that UK pet ownership may save the health service approximately £2.45 billion a year.
Guests were welcomed to the event by Mars UK’s Managing Director Damian Guha alongside co-host Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home . Pet experts at the meeting included report author Prof. Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln and Dr. Sandra McCune, Scientific Leader in Human-Animal Interaction at WALTHAM. Political and policy stakeholders included members of Parliament and senior representatives from both pet and human charities.
“This opportunity provided a great springboard for more engagement on the campaign for responsible pet ownership” said Dr McCune. “It was a rare chance to bring together key policy influencers from across many areas including mental health, social care and animal welfare, all of whom can help to maximise the impact of research about the value of pets in the future”
The group discussed whether specific recommendations for human health and pet care policy could be considered using information from the report and used the report’s findings to identify additional areas where further research would be valuable to policymakers.
“The meeting raised important issues concerning human-animal relationships that need to be addressed and I congratulate the authors of the report for providing hard evidence of the beneficial effects of pet ownership on human health.” said Sir Roger Gale, MP “There is much still to be done but it marks a significant step in the right direction”
Damian Guha ended the event by calling on the Government and businesses to collaborate in order to break down the barriers to responsible pet ownership and promote animal welfare. He commented: “We know from this report and other research that pet ownership brings significant health, social and economic benefits to the UK. We want to work with policymakers to make it easier for people to enjoy life with their pets through greater education and incorporation of pet programmes within workplaces, schools and hospitals.”