Leah C. Dorman, DVM, is director of food programs for Ohio Farm Bureau's Center for Food and Animal Issues.

A Complex Relationship

Have you ever stopped to think about all the ways that animals are a part of our daily lives? What would life be without them?

The American Veterinary Medical Association defines the human-animal bond as a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological and physical interactions of people, animals and the environment.

There is no better feeling than to come home after a hard day at work and have your dog greet you at the door with tail a-wagging, making you feel like royalty. The physical contact of snuggling with and petting animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and can improve the quality of life for patients in nursing homes.

However, the human-animal bond extends beyond companion animals. An assistance dog, wearing a sign bearing the words “Please, don’t bother me. I’m working!” is really an extension of its owner, who may not be able to function at the same level without that animal. Sometimes a part of an animal becomes a part of a human for medical reasons, such as the patient who receives a new heart valve from a pig. Animal models are used to research disease and to test new medications as cures or to alleviate disease symptoms.

Animals are also a basic source of our survival by giving us meat, milk, eggs and fiber (i.e. wool, leather). Horses and oxen have tilled Ohio’s sod for centuries. The farmer has a special bond with his livestock, which is also his livelihood.

Zoos and circuses provide entertainment and education. Hunting provides both recreation and protein.

From farm fields to the foot of the bed, the human-animal bond has existed for thousands of years and is important to both human and animal health. Join me in future issues of Our Ohio as I explore this relationship and the complex ways in which animals provide for us all.

Leah C. Dorman, DVM, is director of food programs for Ohio Farm Bureau’s Center for Food and Animal Issues.

Animals are an important part of our lives in many ways, for many reasons and for many purposes.

Common Cause
The Animals for Life Foundation was recently established to support the efforts of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Center for Food and Animal Issues. The center was created last year to engage farmers, consumers and others who have connections to animals in a public dialog over the proper role of animals in society and to advance their shared values. A core belief of the center is that people have a right to use animals and a responsibility to do so humanely. Learn more by contacting David White at [email protected].

By the Numbers
There are more than 93 million pet cats in the United States compared to more than 77 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association. But when it comes to domestic animals, chickens outnumber them all. In 2008, Ohio alone was home to more than 27 million laying hens and more than 58 million birds raised for meat, according to Department of Agriculture statistics. The state’s farmers also raised about 1.2 million head of cattle, 276,000 dairy cows, 1.9 million hogs and 125,000 lambs.

Horse Sense

A new Ohio State University Extension program was launched last month to provide helpful, up-to-date information to horse owners and enthusiasts. The REINS (Regional Equine Information System) program provides training to volunteers on several horse management and science topics, teaching techniques and program development. After volunteers are certified, they will work with county Extension personnel to provide horse owners helpful information on topics such as nutrition, breeding, foaling, healthcare and pasture management. Volunteers also may develop educational horse materials and help coordinate programs such as farm tours and emergency management. For more information, contact Kim Cole, Ohio State University Extension equine specialist, at 614-292-2625.