Animals, Health and Society

Our Research

We couple our strengths in cognitive biology, clinical animal behaviour, and animal health and disease with research approaches from the social sciences, as we recognise that translating the findings from our foundational and applied animal research into real-world impact will inevitably involve addressing the human and societal factors. 

To this end, members of our research group work with others across the university, nation, and world to explore questions about how people think, interpret, and make decisions around animal care, use and welfare, with an aim to uncover the barriers faced by individuals and groups and co-develop solutions designed to support people in implementing evidence-based practises.

Our research in this area uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and spans contexts (e.g., livestock, companion and exotic animals) and stakeholder groups (e.g. farmers, veterinarians, companion animal owners, those involved in animal assisted interventions and the general public). Recent projects have included:

  • Why animal welfare campaigns may fail: exploring how brachycephalic dog owners respond to information about animal welfare
  • Dog owners’ experiences with the adjustment period following adoption
  • Farm-to-public engagement around animal welfare, environment, and food quality
  • Dairy farmer perceptions and needs around heat stress prevention and mitigation
  • Expert consultation to prioritise welfare issues in captive parrots
  • Systematic review of public perceptions of zoo animal welfare and mediating factors
  • Health benefits and costs of companion animals in the home and workplace


Key Personnel and Expertise

Prof Oliver Burman

  • Animal Behaviour, Cognition & Welfare

Dr Andrew Cooke

  • Animal health, welfare, and environmental interactions

Dr Jonathan Cooper

  • Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Dr Niko Kargas

  • Animal ownership and animal-assisted interventions
  • Director of the Autism Research Innovation Centre (ARIC)

Prof Sandra McCune

  • Animal ownership and animal-assisted interventions
  • Visiting professor of Human-Animal Interaction at University of Lincoln

Prof Kerstin Meints

  • Animal-assisted interventions
  • One of the creators of the Blue Dog programme (international project on children’s dog bite prevention)

Prof Daniel Mills

  • Animal ownership, working animals and animal-assisted interventions.
  • Director of the Animal Behaviour Clinic and editor and author of several books, such as ‘Dog Bites’ and ‘BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine’

Dr Ambrose Tinarwo

  • Animal Welfare

Dr Beth Ventura (Sub Group Lead)

  • Animal welfare science, applied ethology, and social science

Dr Helen Zulch