Veterinarians can earn certificate in human-animal bond

Human Animal Bond Research Institute, NAVC offering program with AVMA as educational partner
Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

Practicing veterinarians as well as veterinary technicians and practice managers can now learn more about research backing the human health benefits of pet ownership and human-animal interactions—and learn how to use that knowledge in veterinary practice.

That's according to an announce­ment from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and the North American Veterinary Community. On Feb. 3 at the NAVC's 2018 Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Florida, HABRI and the NAVC launched an online certificate program in the human-animal bond, with the AVMA as a founding educational partner.

"Research has shown the benefits of good human-animal relationships—not only for animals, but for people," said Dr. Michael Topper, AVMA president. "We've all read about the positive impacts of the human-animal bond on depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and heart health. We also know that most pet owners value their veterinarian more when they recognize the benefits of the human-animal bond.

"The AVMA has served as a source of expertise and a think tank for veterinarians and others interested in human-animal relationships since the early 1980s, so we are a natural partner when it comes to education in this field. As a member of the HABRI board of trustees and as a founding educational partner for the human-animal bond certificate program, the AVMA is extremely pleased to work with these like-minded organizations in support of veterinarians, their patients, and their clients."

To assemble the course material, HABRI and the NAVC convened a group of highly qualified veterinarians, researchers, and academics. The AVMA was a key contributor. Among the course presenters are Dr. Kendall Houlihan, a veterinarian and an assistant director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, and Emily Patterson-Kane, PhD, the animal welfare scientist in the division.

The course consists of six online modules and costs $299, with a 20 percent discount for AVMA members. The modules are being rolled out over time, with some available in late February and the rest anticipated to be available by the end of March. The NAVC reports the course will offer 24 hours of continuing education for veterinarians, pending approval by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' Registry of Approved Continuing Education.

To earn the certificate in the human-animal bond, a candidate must be a practicing veterinarian, veterinary technician, practice manager, or veterinary assistant; complete the work-at-your-own-pace course; and pass an examination. Candidates who earn the certificate will receive a copy to display in their practice and online, and will receive marketing tools to help attract new pet owners to the practice via social media and other online avenues.

Zoetis, Petco, and PetSmart Charities are the premier sponsors for the course.

The certificate program in the human-animal bond consists of six online modules that have the following learning objectives:

  • The science of the human-animal bond.
  • Communicating the human-animal bond.
  • How community engagement reinforces the human-animal bond.
  • Embracing the bond-building a successful practice.
  • Pillars of the bond-animal welfare and wellness.
  • Nurturing the bond when providing medical care.

Course details are available at

Related JAVMA content:

Campaign helps veterinarians tout health benefits of pets (June 15, 2017)

Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative launches database (May 1, 2012)