Human Animal Interactions: The Role of One Health

The goal of One Health is to achieve optimal health outcomes for humans, animals, and the environment by recognizing the interconnection between them. One of these connections, which has brought about interesting research outcomes in recent years, is human-animal interaction and its impact on human and animal health.

Equine therapy

Colorado State University (CSU) is a leader in the areas of research and education involving human animal interaction (HAI):

  • CSU researchers are assessing the health benefits of companion animal and equine assisted services and therapies.
  • Others are studying different aspects of health, including the adverse health impacts on workers involved in euthanizing livestock, as well as the relationship between worker and animal well-being.

Several centers on campus offer HAI-related community service, research, and educational opportunities:

  • The Argus Center at the James Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital provides bereavement counseling and support to pet owners who have lost a pet or navigating difficult end of life decisions.
  • Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC), housed in the School of Social Work, improves the quality of life for people through the therapeutic benefits of companion animals and supports research projects related to HAI.
  • Researchers in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources as well as the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory study many aspects of human-wildlife interfaces.
  • The Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC) has three specific research tracks including: 1) systematic mapping reviews of peer-reviewed literature on equine-assisted activities and therapies; 2) dementia and equine-assisted learning; and 3) autism and occupational therapy in an equine environment.
  • The Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), an academic institution housed at Colorado State University, is focused on integrating transformative science, education, and outreach to minimize conflict and facilitate coexistence between humans and carnivores

Although this just a sample of the work being done, these efforts exemplify the strength, magnitude, and diversity of human animal interaction (HAI) research, service, and education at Colorado State University and offer a superior depiction of One Health. At the crux of One Health is the concept that the health of people, animals, and the environment are intricately interwoven and interdependent. The One Health Institute supports and synergizes the work of HAI-related experts to create a gestalt –a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. For One Health, this is recognizing all aspects as well as the interconnectedness of the health of people, animals, and the environment.

As the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for this multi-directional and dimensional view has never been more important. The One Health Institute is uniquely poised to leverage the exemplary work currently being conducted at CSU by helping all entities come together to assess and improve human-animal interactions in the context of diverse environments.