The human-animal-nature bond

The psychological bond between humans and animals appears to have important health consequences. Research has indicated that pet ownership can be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems. Contact with nature also appears to have positive health effects.

The strength of the human-animal bond can be seen in people who refuse to leave pets behind when being evacuated during a natural disaster and in people facing homelessness who decide to keep their pets with them at all times.  

Better understanding of the human-animal bond can help facilitate efforts to improve the health of people and animals.

Our research includes:

People experiencing homelessness with pets project

With support from the UW Population Health Initiative, COHR carried out qualitative and survey research with youth and adults experiencing homelessness with animals in Seattle. This research explored the health aspects of the human-animal bond for these individuals and how pet ownership affects access to medical services and housing. See "The Impact of Pet Ownership on Healthcare-Seeking Behavior in Individuals Experiencing Homelessness" for more information on this project and its findings. 

Graduate students working with COHR have also published findings from research on the One Health Clinic, which provides human healthcare alongside veterinary care for people experiencing homelessness with a pet, including "Evaluation of a One Health Clinic: Enhancing access to healthcare and housing for young adults experiencing homelessness with animals" and "A One Health Clinic for People Experiencing Homelessness and Their Animals: Treating the Human-Animal Unit". For information on how to offer a One Health Clinic in your community, please read our Toolkit to help you get started. 

COHR has also supported Everything to Me, a documentary storytelling project by COHR Research Coordinator Gemina Garland-Lewis’ about the strong connections between people who are homeless and their animals.


Woman with dog in lap
Photo by Gemina Garland-Lewis