Animals have long been thought to offer therapeutic benefits to people who are ill or have disabilities. Now, the National Institutes of Health is set to research whether or not there’s truth behind the theory.

The government health agency is seeking research proposals looking at the affects of human-animal relationships on human development and public health. Researchers are encouraged to bring proposals looking at “why relationships with pets are more important to some children than to others,” among other topics.

NIH officials noted the need for more research on the impact of animals on human health back in 1987, but until now most research looked at adverse affects of pets, like the spread of disease, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.

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