The animal-human bond and ethnic diversity

Christina Risley-Curtiss, Lynn Holley, Shapard Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Affectionate relationships with animal companions have health-enhancing effects on people and enrich their quality of life, and the majority of families with companion animals regard their animals as family members. Research has also suggested that these relationships are complicated and vary depending on a number of factors, yet there has been almost no exploration of ethnic diversity in relationships with companion animals. This descriptive study explores the relationships among race and ethnicity, beliefs about companion animals, and ownership practices. Findings indicate that in many instances there were no statistical differences by ethnicity. Nonetheless, describing oneself as white, American Indian, or both was associated with being more likely to have companion animals. Those identifying themselves as of Hispanic or Spanish origin were less likely to have cats and to have their cat or dog spayed or neutered and more likely to say they get a sense of personal safety from their dog or cat. The implications of these findings are discussed, and suggestions for research and practice are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalSocial work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Companion animals
  • Ethnic diversity
  • Human-animal bond
  • Pet therapy
  • Social work and pets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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