Editorial Notes: Tapping into pet power

Why is the pet-human bond so powerful?

The group works to educate health care and other professionals. - Tim Phillips

"The popular press is full of stories of people who, through their strong relationship with their pets, have found a reason to go on living despite illnesses," notes Marty Becker, DVM. This strong relationship, this bond, will be the topic of Dr. Becker's keynote address at Petfood Forum 2009 on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois, USA.

Why is this bond so powerful? Evidence points to the fact that it gives us nonjudgmental, close relationships. Such relationships can help lower our heart rates, decrease blood pressure and enhance our mood. All this makes me happy that there is an organization called Delta Society devoted to fostering this bond.

Fostering the bond

Delta Society is a service organization dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond. It seeks to improve human health through therapy and service animals. It also works to increase awareness of the positive effects of animals, reduce the barriers that prevent the involvement of animals in everyday life and expand the therapeutic role of animals in society.

Vision quest

Founded in 1977 and based in Bellevue, Washington USA, Delta Society has these goals:

Advance knowledge. The group works to educate health care and other professionals, as well as the general public, about the healing powers of animals. They promote the ongoing advancement of research designed to demonstrate how animals positively impact human lives.

Empower individuals. By connecting people with disabilities with resources and tools they need to utilize service animals, Delta Society enhances the quality of their lives.

Heal people. The organization encourages people to share the bond they have with their pets with others in need of the unconditional love that only an animal friend can bring.

Delta Society programs

Following are some of the resources available through Delta Society:

  • The human-animal bond resource center has articles and abstracts for learning more about the wide variety of health benefits people of all ages gain through animals. Subject matter includes the healing power of pets for children, adults, seniors and families.
  • The service animal resource center is a Web-based program providing information and resources for people with disabilities, as well as their friends and family, who are considering getting a service animal or who are currently partnered with a service animal.
  • The Pet Partners program trains and screens volunteers and their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities.

For more information contact Delta Society, 875 124th Avenue NE, Suite 101, Bellevue, WA 98005, USA. Tel: +1.425.679.5500; Fax: +1.425.679.5539; [email protected] .


The Delta Society educates Pet Partners teams that are registered (not certified). This education covers topics such as infection control procedures, how to effectively engage with different populations and how to recognize stress signs in pets and the people they visit.

The human with its animal partner is also screened using a 22-part evaluation process. Once the team passes these requirements, plus a health-screening from their veterinarian, the team can then register with Delta Society. The organization requires new evaluations, animal health screenings and renewal registrations every two years.

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