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A Unique Bond

A Unique BondAt the third-annual Tufts Animal Expo, thousands of animal-care professionals addressed the social and medical impact pets have on human lives.

No. Grafton, Mass. [09.16.02] From comforting children in hospitals to searching for survivors after catastrophes, animals are playing an increasingly important role in the country's public health and public safety systems. But only recently have veterinarians and scientists focused their research on the unique role animals play in humans' lives, say experts at last week's Tufts Animal Expo, who add that the animal-human bond impacts everything from mental health to public safety.

"Animals enrich our lives in so many ways, from assisting people with disabilities, to locating missing persons, to identifying dangerous elements such as explosives and narcotics, to simply being our friends and companions," said Dr. Philip Kosch, dean of Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Kosch's remarks came shortly before the start of the third-annual Tufts Animal Expo, which drew thousands of animal experts from around the world to Boston's Hynes Convention Center last week.

"If the just concluded Tufts Animal Expo is any indication, the love affair between Americans and their pets continues unabated," reported The Boston Herald.

Comprised of presentations on the latest breakthroughs in animal health care and alternative therapies, educational sessions, discussions about controversial topics and presentations for veterinarians and groomers, the one-of-a-kind event kicked off on Massachusetts' officially proclaimed "Animal Appreciation Day."

"Ethical issues [discussed] during the expo included whether people can sue for compensation for the loss of a 'companion animal' and whether states should band breeding of allegedly 'dangerous dogs,'" reported the Herald.

The content of the unique event, Tufts' Dr. Anthony Schwartz said in an interview with the Herald, is clear evidence that the role of veterinarians is expanding beyond just treating animals.

"The vet is really very much a public health professional," Schwartz told the newspaper.

From research on cats and cancer to discussions about "dangerous dogs" to research on a new vaccine to treat the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Tufts Animal Expo provided animal specialists an opportunity to learn more about the expanding medical, scientific and public policy frontiers of the profession.

The event also offered an opportunity to recognize the impact animals have already had on humans.

"During this week in particular, we should remember and honor the dedication and hard work of the search and rescue dogs at Ground Zero last year," Kosch said.

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