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Open AccessArticle

Interaction and Emotional Connection with Pets: A Descriptive Analysis from Puerto Rico

1
Department of Psychology, Ana G. Méndez University, Gurabo Campus, Gurabo, PR 00777, USA
2
Department of Education, University of Extremadura, Avda, de Elvas, s/n, 06006 Badajoz, Spain
3
College of Education, Ana G. Méndez University, Cupey Campus, San Juan, PR 00926, USA
4
Department of Sociology, University of Murcia, C/Campus Universitario, 11, 30100 Murcia, Spain
5
Department of Social Work and Social Services, University of Murcia, Avda, Teniente Flomesta, 5, 30003 Murcia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2136; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112136
Received: 23 October 2020 / Accepted: 12 November 2020 / Published: 17 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Mental Health: Human–Animal Interaction)
The coexistence of humans with pets, and the type and quality of interactions that derive from it, is a growing line of research that covers many scientific disciplines: veterinary sciences, education, psychology, biological sciences, sociology, neuroscience, etc. In this article, we analyze both the characteristics of care for pets and the feelings and emotions involved in the human–pet relationship in the population of Puerto Rico. The sample has been of 1436 people. The most representative results of the research show how pets have a positive impact on the mental health of their owners, because of the emotional connection established, which leads them to experience mainly feelings of love, joy and peace.
The study of human–animal interactions has become a prominent research field. The presence of pets in our daily lives has meant a change in the perception of our relationship with pets. One of the new lines of research that has opened up in this area analyzes the possible physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of a human–animal bond. In this context, two main objectives were pursued in this study, whose sample (N = 1436) was investigated in Puerto Rico: (PO1) determining the characteristics of the owners and the care of the pets within Puerto Rican society and (PO2) to analyzing the benefits of living with pets for health and personal well-being, especially at the psychological level. We sought to identify the feelings that arose in pet caretakers as a result of human–animal interactions. The methodology used, which was descriptive and not experimental, was based on a questionnaire of 86 questions with a Likert scale. After the descriptive analysis was undertaken through a frequency analysis, a binary logistic regression was carried out to establish whether the feelings and emotions of the subjects toward their companion pets were determined by sociodemographic variables and were related to the type of coexistence with their pets. The two main results from this study are as follows: for most owners, their pets are very important beings, and those who establish an emotional connection with their pets experience love, joy, and peace. Pets are part of human life through very intense relationships and interactions that, in most cases, increase personal welfare by providing improvements to the human–animal biopsychosocial system. In this sense, a relationship with a pet has a positive impact on the mental health of the owner. Pets are a part of our family lives and are regulators of the most elementary feelings and emotions in humans. View Full-Text
Keywords: human–animal interaction; companion pets; psychological health; welfare; animal-assisted intervention; animal protection; education; human–animal bond human–animal interaction; companion pets; psychological health; welfare; animal-assisted intervention; animal protection; education; human–animal bond
MDPI and ACS Style

Aragunde-Kohl, U.; Gómez-Galán, J.; Lázaro-Pérez, C.; Martínez-López, J.Á. Interaction and Emotional Connection with Pets: A Descriptive Analysis from Puerto Rico. Animals 2020, 10, 2136.

AMA Style

Aragunde-Kohl U, Gómez-Galán J, Lázaro-Pérez C, Martínez-López JÁ. Interaction and Emotional Connection with Pets: A Descriptive Analysis from Puerto Rico. Animals. 2020; 10(11):2136.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Aragunde-Kohl, Ursula; Gómez-Galán, José; Lázaro-Pérez, Cristina; Martínez-López, José Á. 2020. "Interaction and Emotional Connection with Pets: A Descriptive Analysis from Puerto Rico" Animals 10, no. 11: 2136.

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