The Human-Animal Bond

by Jason Smith

Introduction

Growing up, I was blessed with the opportunity to have many pets. Over the years, my family had fish, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and snakes. The animal I had the greatest connection with was my guinea pig Triad.

Triad the Guinea Pig
A photo of Triad taken in August 2002. Toledo, OH

Triad was an English short-hair, with black, white, and brown markings. I bought him after my first year of college at Bowling Green State University. I named him Triad because at the time, I was a music student.

In 2002, I was 20 years old and struggling to find my place in this world. Facing financial adversity and overall discontentment and distress, I contemplated suicide. In fact, I had taken a knife to my arm, but in looking up at Triad, I couldn’t go through with it. In my mind, he needed me and no one could take better care of him than me. With all the uncertainty around me, his relationship with me was the only thing I was sure about. Thanks to him, I am able to share this story and to proclaim that I eventually came into a relationship that gives me even greater purpose. That is my relationship with Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this blog entry is to describe the human-animal bond and to explain how people and pets benefit and/or respond to this relationship.

What is the human-animal bond?

Plenty of research has been done concerning the human-animal bond. In short, the phrase “human-animal bond” refers to the significance of the relationship between humans and animals. This is not limited to family pets. According to Shepherd (2008), a relationship exists between any animal and all the humans that interact with it. Moreover, the Animal Welfare Act of 2007 in the United Kingdom “stipulates that all those in contact with an animal have a ‘duty of care’ towards it, which encompasses both physical and mental needs, health and well-being” (Shepherd, 2008). Because the human-animal bond extends to all animals we may come in contact with, it is important that we take care to nurture that relationship with every animal we interact with.

Human Responsibility

Animals depend on us to meet their basic needs; therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are doing everything we can to meet those needs. Companion animals require food, water, and shelter at a most basic level. They need safety and security. They need exercise and play time. They need someone to pet them and love them. In exchange for providing them with these things, humans benefit in many ways.

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