Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative

Understanding and promoting the health and wellbeing of both human and non-human animals in symbiotic relationships through research, education and outreach.

HAIRI LogoCore Values

Scientific rigor 
Interdisciplinary collaboration
Diversity of animal-human relationships 
Bio-cultural perspective
Research to practice|Corporate & community partnerships
One Health   

The relationship between humans and non-human animals (hereafter simply “animals”) is a rapidly growing focus of multidisciplinary research and clinical application. Most of this growing interest is focused on domesticated pet animals (especially mammals like dogs and cats) and select other species (especially horses) who have been our steady companions and important to our survival for thousands of years.

Growing understandings of the mutual benefits of the human-animal relationship for health and well-being is driving new funding for basic research and its therapeutic applications, and stimulating the growth of institutes or academic programs of study in universities, medical schools, and schools of veterinary science nationally and internationally.

The Tucson region is a “hotbed” for animal-assisted therapy (e.g., treatments for depression, physical disabilities, drug abuse, and autism) and other animal-facilitated clinical and learning programs.

While many private organizations provide some form of animal-assisted therapy, it has become clear that there is as yet relatively little solid scientific support for the claimed benefits of such programs nor an understanding of the bio-psychological mechanisms or processes underlying claimed therapeutic effects. Indeed, in recognition of this lag in scientific study, and to inspire “evidence-based” practices, the NIH’s National Institutes Child Health & Development (NICHD) has created a new “Human-Animal Interaction” funding initiative. Likewise the American Psychological Association dedicated a new membership section and journal to this area of interest. And for the same reason, a number of research centers have sprung up nationally and internationally in and outside academic institutions, as well as professional organizations and peer-reviewed journals dedicated to human-animal interaction research and clinical practice.

HAIRI uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand and promote the health and well-being of both human and non-human animals in *symbiotic relationships through research, education, and outreach.

We envision HAIRI as a leading authority in human-animal interactions, advancing mutualistic relationships in families and industry. Further, we envision HAIRI as internationally recognized by academic and industry practitioners as one of the top research and education centers in the field of human-animal interaction, with a reputation that is highly regarded and trusted by scientists, pet owners and animal businesses.

Guiding Philosophy

  • All programs and activities must be of high scientific caliber or standard and aim to illuminate any and all aspects of human-animal interactions or relationships to the benefit of both humans and other animals.
  • By “benefit” we mean two things: One is that our activities themselves, such as research procedures, and their carefully anticipated outcomes do no bring harm—either mental or physical—to any of the subjects involved, but instead, actually or potentially, improve quality of life for all subjects involved. Second, our programs and activities are mindfully designed and implemented with the goal that the increased scientific knowledge they yield will likely improve the quality of life for both humans and other animals. 
  • HAIRI itself does not hold nor subscribe to or advocate any partisan views, ideology, or legal position concerning the nature, meaning or significance of human-animal interactions. In consequence, HAIRI may seek funding from any legitimate private, public or government source and support any and all programs and activities so long as these further the stated aims and goals of HAIRI.
  • Anyone working under the auspices of or as part of a HAIRI sponsored activity may hold, personally subscribe to, or advocate a particular partisan view, ideology, or legal position concerning human-animal relationships, as may, for example, emerge as a result or implication of her or his work. While HAIRI values diverse perspectives, in such cases, the individual must clearly state that any such position or advocacy is strictly their own and not that of HAIRI.

*Symbiosis is a close relationship between two different kinds of organisms that are interdependent. The nature of the relationship can be characterized as: Mutualism- mutually beneficial to both organisms; Commensalism- one organism benefits and the other isn't affected much at all; Parasitism- one organism benefits and the other is harmed. HAIRI seeks to understand all these kinds of human-animal relationships, with particular emphasis on Mutualism.

HAIRI logo design by Katherine Cudney