Editorial credit: Eric Kujawa
Thursday, September 22, The Animal Health Institute, an organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of animals to protect the well-being of humans, invited members of Congress and congressional staff to their 15th Annual Celebrity Pet Night on Capitol Hill to highlight the connection between animals and public health.
To showcase the event, this year’s celebrity pet guests included appearances and photo opportunities by Bodie, the French bulldog, who starred in the movie “Due Date” and Cheeto, who starred in “The Smurfs” as, the cat, “Azrael”.
Guests mingled among photos of Congressmen and women, along with their own animal companions, and enjoyed a delicious spread of finger foods, including; speared salmon, bite sized biscuit sandwiches, pot-stickers, speared mozzarella and cherry tomatoes surrounding a center dessert table sporting two large ice sculptures of a dog and cat.
The casual atmosphere allowed many to relax in the comfortable environment to enjoy good food and drinks while lining up for their photo with each of the two animals that sat perfectly well-behaved throughout the event.
But, really, the main focus of the night was to remind everyone of more than just the bond they share with their animal – but the environment they share and potential risks from the environment as well.
Humans can share a wide variety of diseases with their animal and vice versa. According to the AHI, zoonotic diseases are estimated to include about 60% of diseases that can affect human health. That means about 60% of diseases that affect a family can also be transmitted through to the family pet and from the pet to the family as well.
The AHI is working to increase awareness of these diseases to decrease the transmission rate of some of the more serious of these diseases, such as the recent introduction of the H1N1 virus into the human population, according to HealthyAnimals.org. They believe that by researching the communicability rate between humans and animals and vaccinating life stock, and making sure that the proper medicines and vaccines are available to veterinarians, the increased risk to public health from these zoonotic diseases will decrease over time.
Although, Bodie and Cheeto couldn’t comment on these issues themselves, their trainers were quite clear that people should play a supportive role in caring for animals. And, that doesn’t mean that the animal has to be of a particular special breed or species either.
“We try to get all of our animals from rescue shelters,” said Cheeto’s trainer when asked about animal auditions. “A lot of times we aren’t looking for AKC official animals for films.”
And, he says, the animals become part of the family and often stay with the trainer after the filming has wrapped.
More information about the AHI can be found online at: