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HumaneSpot.org, from the Humane Research Council, is the world's most comprehensive resource for public opinion and behavior research about animal protection issues. This site is designed to help animal advocates be more effective in helping animals. Registration is required for some items but is quick and entirely free.


Are you looking for research on a specific animal-related issue? Click one of the links below to browse HRC's comprehensive database.


Browse Records By Issue

HRC Research Primers HRC's Humane Trends

Animals and Attachment Theory

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Attachment theory proposes that patterns for human relationships are formed from significant childhood attachments. Where these relationships were not supportive, relationship difficulties in adulthood may result. However, these patterns don't necessarily carry over to human-animal relationships. Furthermore, some human-animal relationships may qualify as significant "attachments," which creates an opportunity for the development of new patterns in a more emotionally safe context. The impact of such relationships on animals is not addressed.



On Uncertain Sightings and Inference about Extinction

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This article discusses two different statistical models to analyze wildlife sighting data. The difference in the models lies in the way they handle uncertain sightings. The data conditions under which each model is most appropriate are discussed. The author applies both models to the case of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which may or may not be extinct, to illustrate the differences in the results that are produced.




Effect of Gentle Stroking and Vocalization on Behaviour, Mucosal Immunity and Upper Respiratory Disease in Anxious Shelter Cats

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This study tested whether multiple daily petting sessions of cats during their first 10 days at an animal shelter would improve their resistance to respiratory infections by reducing stress. Cats in the control group were 2.4 times more likely to contract a respiratory illness than cats who were petted. Control cats also experienced increased shedding over the study period, and reactivation of latent infections. Cats who were aggressive at intake were petted using a tool. None remained aggressive by the 6th day. These cats would likely have been euthanized as unsocializable ferals if they had not been assigned to the study.

Fish Intelligence, Sentience and Ethics

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This literature review summarizes research on fish intelligence and capacity to feel pain and fear. Reminding readers that a laddered concept of evolution is outdated, the author discusses fish sensory abilities, memory capacity, spatial learning, social skills, nest building and tool use. He also discusses evidence that fish feel pain, and concludes that there is ample evidence that fish are intelligent and can experience pain. He calls for adjustments in ethical and welfare perspectives and practices.



Major Emerging and Re-emerging Zoonoses in China: A Matter of Global Health and Socioeconomic Development for 1.3 Billion

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This review discusses several recent examples of human disease outbreaks in China that originated with animals, such as SARS, Japanese encephalitis, brucellosis, influenza strains and others. Contributing factors, including urbanization, risks associated with both small and large farms, antibiotic resistance, food safety issues and climate change are examined. The article closes with a description of regulation and reporting, education, targeted research, and other control strategies that are being implemented.


Effects of Wind Energy Development on Nesting Ecology of Greater Prairie-Chickens in Fragmented Grasslands

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This study monitored nests of Greater Prairie Chickens in northern Kansas for two years before and three years after wind turbines were built in their habitat to determine whether the turbines would have direct or indirect impacts on nesting site selection. Prairie Chicken hens preferred nesting sites with tall screening grass on all sides, well away from woods, farm fields, and large highways. Site selection preferences remained the same after the turbines were built, and no correlation with presence or absence of the turbines was found.


Social Dimensions of the Human–Avian Bond: Parrots and Their Persons

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This study analyzes the responses of 100 surveys completed by guardians of companion birds (primarily parrots), in combination with observations at a specialty avian veterinary clinic. The overwhelming majority of guardians (87%) were female, 57% were bird guardians or knew bird guardians as children, 86% regarded their birds as family members and 60% had made provisions for their long-lived birds in the event of their death. The article discusses health, social and welfare needs of companion birds, with special attention to problematic behaviors of guardians that may negatively impact their companions.


Informed Communication = Better Results (part 1)

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Good communication is at the core of everything we do as advocates. Whether we’re trying to convince individuals to go vegan, showing institutions that vivisection won’t stand without a fight, recruiting new activists for a protest, working on animal protective legislation, or even writing a communique about freed animals... we’re always employing what we know—or think we know—about best practices for reaching the most people with our message.



Consumer Preference, Behavior and Perception about Meat and Meat Products: An Overview

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This literature review considers consumer attitudes about meat from three perspectives: psychological, sensory and marketing. Psychological factors include lifestyle and values, socio-cultural effects, expectations, risk and attitude. Sensory factors are appearance, odor, flavor and texture. The marketing aspects are price, label, brand and availability. Although the goal of this article is to illuminate selling points for meat, the discussion of consumer associations with meat and the many studies cited may also be helpful to advocates for meat reduction.



A Study on Fear Memory Retrieval and REM Sleep in Maternal Separation and Isolation Stressed Rats

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This study isolated male rat pups from their mothers and each other when they were 5-7 days old. They were conditioned to a series of tones, then presented with a louder tone while they were shocked. At 2 months old, they responded to any tone with more fear than the control group, their fear subsided more slowly, and they had longer periods of both REM sleep and overall sleep. This research was performed as a model for human reactions, but has welfare implications for the rats themselves, and possibly for other animals.


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