Influence of the Human-Animal Bond on Military Veterans

Sep. 24, 2020

In January 2020, Dr. Kim Cole was one of three recipients of CHAIRE’s RFP graduate student funding for her project titled “Influence of the Human-Animal Bond on Oxytocin Levels and Overall Health of Military Veterans and their Animal Counterparts.” This funding includes four semesters of stipend and tuition for Nicole Lorig’s PhD program. Nicole began her program in fall 2020 and plans to begin her data collection in spring 2020, pending further impacts of COVID-19.

The purpose of their study is to understand how the development of a human-animal bond may influence oxytocin levels and overall health and quality of military veterans when regularly interacting with dogs or horses. This will be achieved by creation of programs to assess how cohabitation with an animal (dog fostering) and how the nature and frequency of interaction with an animal (equine-assisted activities) influences both human-animal bond development and the overall health of military veterans. Dr. Cole and Nicole have partnered with Benjamin Carignan, Academic Counselor and Staff Assistant within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who will assist their team in establishing a collaborative initiative within CHAIRE and the college. Together the team will be able to reach over 80 students within CFAES and over 1200 military students across the university for hopeful participation in this important project.

CHAIRE is very excited to support this project to help Dr. Cole and Nicole gain a greater understanding of the human-animal bond and potential strategies to improve the quality of life of military veterans, including veteran students within the university. Stay tuned for more updates of this important project in the future!