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Conference To Focus On Human-Animal Bond


For release: 8th September 2008

Conference To Focus On Human-Animal Bond


The connection between humans and other creatures is to take centre stage when the 2008 NZ Companion Animal Conference gets under way in Masterton on Monday 15th September.

The two day gathering, organised by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC), will bring together a distinguished cast of speakers from New Zealand and overseas, including animal behaviour experts, veterinarians and animal welfare advocates.

Topics up for discussion include the origins of the human-animal bond, the many ways in which animals make our lives better and how our relationships with animals can impact on them.

"We've chosen to focus on these connections, both because of the significant practical roles companion animals play in our community and because of the emotional enrichment they provide," says the NZCAC's Chairman, Bob Kerridge.

"Guide Dogs for the Blind, 'Hearing Dogs' and 'Epilepsy Assist Dogs' all proffer significant help to humans coping with disabilities, as do 'Riding for the Disabled' horses. Similarly, police dogs and MAF's sharp-nosed canine sleuths make an important contribution to law enforcement.

"However, beyond these specific, obvious examples of animals helping humans, lie the huge benefits that so many of us draw from living alongside animals and from their amazing ability to make our lives happier and fuller," he says.

"It's also increasingly clear that an understanding of the connection between animals and humans is vital to reducing animal abuse and making us a generally more compassionate society," Mr Kerridge adds.

Conference Speakers include a celebrated husband and wife team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California's Davis campus.

Benjamin L Hart is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and current Director of the Companion Animal Behaviour Programme. He will be looking at the behavioural problems that can occur as animals adjust to our demands on them.

For her part, Professor Lynette Hart will be concentrating on positive aspects of our interrelationship with animals, including what they can teach us, how we can adjust to their presence and how they can improve our wellbeing through their natural therapeutic abilities.

The gathering will also explore the spiritual connection with animals experienced by indigenous peoples in New Zealand, Australia and North America. Mike Kawana (Rangitane Iwi) will be joined by Australian-based veterinarian, Dr Honey Nelson, and by Bob Kerridge, as they seek to recapture the primal bond between humans and other species.

Other Conference topics include the role of animal cruelty in pointing to abuse of humans, including children. This topic will be addressed by Val Ball MNZM, President of the Wairarapa SPCA.

Professor Kevin Stafford of Massey University will take a quizzical look at the vexed question of whether animals actually like us and West Australia-based veterinarian, Dr Richmond Loh, is to discuss a favoured theme; 'how to make friends with fish'.

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council brings together a range of organisations and individuals concerned with animal issues, including welfare bodies, regulatory organisations, veterinarians and breeder associations.


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