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Hollywood Feed University Hosts Online Course About the Psychological Bonds Between Humans and Animals

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September 02, 2020
Hollywood Feed University Hosts Online Course About the Psychological Bonds Between Humans and Animals

Hollywood Feed recently hosted a free virtual class, entitled Our Symphony with Animals, taught by neurologist Dr. Aysha Akhtar. The course is part of Hollywood Feed’s new pet wellness education resource, known as Hollywood Feed University. This particular seminar focused on the psychological bonds between humans and animals.

Dr. Akhtar opened by explaining that humans have an innate connection with animals. Biophilia, the natural human tendency to interact closely with all forms of life, is the basic reasoning for the human capacity to care for animals. She shared with attendees that she traveled throughout the United States for five years studying what humans gain when they empathize with animals and what they lose without such interaction.
In her studies, Dr. Akhtar discovered that the presence of animals boosts the health and well-being of humans immensely by reducing blood pressure and cardiovascular rates while increasing life spans via elevating the release of positive neurochemicals, causing people to feel happier. 
“Animals provide a unique comfort to us because they are not humans. They allow us to break away from our hectic human lives, reengage with the world, and help us experience joy,” said Dr. Akhtar.

She went on to report that it is proven that violence, mental disorders, and suicide rates drop significantly in the presence of animals. After meticulously studying inmates for one year, Dr. Akhtar discovered that basic human empathy can be learned by effectively caring for animals. Without healthy interactions between humans and animals, the tendency for animal cruelty increases. Some root causes she identified that potentially lead to the propensity for animal cruelty include childhood experiences, culture, and family.

Dr. Akhtar noted that the United States is beginning to notice the significance that animals have on human empathy. The New York Police Department has launched the nation’s first squad of detectives focused solely on studying crimes against animals. The link between animal cruelty and violent crime is so strong and irrefutable that the FBI has made significant changes in how they track animal abuse by moving it to a Category A crime, the same category as murders.

Lastly, Dr. Akhtar discussed that most violence against animals occurs by large industries including factory farms, fur farms, and labs. Violence against animals, even in routine, systemic ways, links back to human violence. She noted that we can learn how to regain empathy by becoming familiar with all types of animals, not just those we would typically have as pets. This leads to humans becoming better people, wanting to take better care of themselves, and being kinder to animals.

Dr. Akhtar kept viewers engaged by answering questions via an interactive presentation as well as posting several polls to gage attendee knowledge, habits and opinions. She ended by emphasizing that animals and humans share the basic needs of safety, comfort, and a gentle hand. Empathy for animals is the extension of empathy for one another – and from it, humans and animals alike can gain happiness and health.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., is a neurologist and public health specialist and is on a mission to show that what’s good for animals is also good for humans.

Dr. Akhtar is the author of the new book, Our Symphony with Animals: On Health, Empathy, and Our Shared Destinies. Combining medicine, social sciences, and stories, her book explores how deeply the well-being of humans and animals are entwined. The book shows how humanity’s compassion for animals is the next step in our species’ moral evolution and a vital component of our own health.

She is the President and CEO of the Center for Contemporary Sciences, which is pioneering the transition to replace the use of animals in experimentation with effective human-based technologies. Previously she served as Deputy Director of the U.S. Army Traumatic Brain Injury Program developing the Army’s Brain Injury prevention and treatment strategies for soldiers. As a Commander in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Akhtar frequently deployed to assist with national public health emergencies.

For a decade, Aysha was a Medical Officer at the Food and Drug Administration, most recently in the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, implementing studies on vaccine effectiveness and safety and using her Top Secret Security Clearance to develop national preparedness strategies for public health threats. She is published in peer-reviewed journals including Lancet, Pediatrics, Journal of Public Health Policy, and Reviews in Neurosciences. Aysha is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She is also a TEDx speaker.

ABOUT HOLLYWOOD FEED: Hollywood Feed serves pets, their owners, caretakers and communities in 100+ stores across 14 states. Consistently ranking atop consumer choice awards in the markets it serves, Hollywood Feed and its family of brands have most recently been named Best Pet Supply Stores by Dallas A-List, Best Pet Store by The Memphis Flyer, Best Self Atlanta Magazine's Best Pet Store, Best Pet Food and Supplies in the Best of Denton County Awards, and Best New Business by Cary Living Magazine in North Carolina. Hollywood Feed proudly stands by its brand promise: If your pet doesn’t love it or if you don’t love it, we will gladly replace or refund it. Learn more about Hollywood Feed at and For more information on Hollywood Feed University, visit
Beth Okeon, Marketing

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