More Th an a Furry Companion: Th e Ripple Effect of Companion Animals on Neighborhood Interactions and Sense of Community Lisa J. Wood, 1 Billie Giles-Corti, Max K. Bulsara, and Darcy A. Bosch Th e University of Western Australia Abstract Companion animals (pets) exemplify the affinities possible between humans and nonhuman ani- mals. Evidence documenting a diversity of emotional, physical, and therapeutic benefits of pet guardianship (ownership) substantiates sentimental anecdotes from pet owners. Although the lit- erature focuses primarily on the “one to one” benefits accruing from interactions with pets, this paper explores the potential role of pets as facilitators of social interactions and sense of community. Th e paper uses triangulation to synthesize findings from qualitative and quantitative research undertaken in three Western Australian suburbs. Th e qualitative data derive from 12 focus groups and quantitative data, from a survey of 339 residents. In both qualitative and quantitative research, pet ownership positively associated with social interactions, favor exchanges, civic engagement, per- ceptions of neighborhood friendliness, and sense of community. Pets appeared to ameliorate some determinants of mental health such as loneliness. Findings suggest pets have a ripple effect extend- ing beyond their guardians (owners) to non-pet owners
Society & Animals – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2007
Keywords: SENSE OF COMMUNITY; HEALTH; TRIANGULATION; SOCIAL INTERACTIONS; PETS; SOCIAL CAPITAL
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