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Photo: Lynette A. Hart

Lynette A. Hart- BS, MA, PhD
Professor
Population Health & Reproduction

3207 VM3B
Davis, CA 95616

+1 530 752 2181
lahart@ucdavis.edu

   

Research Focus

There are three major interrelated areas of my research activity, each related to my various roles in teaching and mentoring of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. My primary research focus is on human-animal interactions. I continue working with a former postdoctoral student now in a faculty position in Japan, Mariko Yamamoto, in evaluating the expanding role of pets as assistance dogs for people with physical or mental disabilities. My group has published the only two papers regarding demographics on numbers and types of service/assistance dogs. One concerned Californians who had registered their assistance dogs over the previous 10+ years and the other included data from facilities around the world that place assistance dogs, including their placements by numbers and types in 2013 and 2014. A current focus is on psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs, and their roles for their handlers. I also have begun research on effects of meditating with a dog, or performing TTouch with the dog, to alleviate the fearfulness/anxiety of the dog. This work is a collaboration with epidemiologist Elisabeth Gruskin; we next will apply similar methods with dog owners with symptoms of mental illness to explore whether the meditation with the dog alleviates their symptoms. I mentor undergraduate students in all research projects. Each year I incorporate our new findings into my teaching of veterinary and undergraduate students.


A second focus of recent years has been in collaborating with others in exploring the adverse disease-related effects of spay/neuter in dog as a function of breed membership, gender and neuter age. These three papers, on Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds have had a large impact in the veterinary profession and the general public. A major theme concerns differences between breeds and genders. Together with coauthor Benjamin Hart, we have shown that the breeds essential as assistance dogs, military dogs and police dogs-Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds - all have a marked increased incidence of joint disorders from early spay/neuter that can impact the working life of the dog, and cause major psychological and financial stress for the handler. We have shown that simply avoiding a spay/neuter in the first year can eliminate most of the risks of a joint disorder. The large research team for this work includes several undergraduate students that I have mentored for their own side-piece of research for Animal Biology projects on topics we had not previously examined. These projects are informing our team's subsequent research on spay-neuter effects including degenerative myelopathy, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism. We now are in the final stages of wrapping up information for a single paper on 30+ breeds as well as similar data on five weight classes of mixed breed dogs.


A third major research focus is basic animal behavior. Continuing a longterm interest in various aspects of behavior of elephants, this year we published work with the first report of yawning and contagious yawning of elephants. This work with Benjamin Hart and others was first-authored by an exceptional honors undergraduate, Zoe Rossman. She also conducted a study of captive elephant-initiated interactions with their human guides, as well as volunteers or visiting tourists; she first-authored both of these papers this year.

Specialty Focus

Human-animal Interactions and Animal Behavior and Welfare

Education

1958 BS Physical Science Education, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
1962 MA Education Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
1976 PhD Zoology/Animal Behavior, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Honors and Awards

2011-2012 Advisory Professor, Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Graduate School for Life, The Catholic University of Korea; February 2011-January 2012
2011 Visiting Professor, St. Georges School of Veterinary Medicine, Grenada; April-May and October-November
2011 Visiting Professor, Azabu University, Tokyo, Japan
2010-2012 Vienna Encyclopedia of Animal Welfare Advisory Board (http://veaw.univie.ac.at/editors/advisory-board/)
2010 Visiting Professor, University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland; September-October
2009 Visiting Professor, Azabu University, Tokyo, Japan
1995-2012 Honorary Member, Society for the Study of Human-Animal Relations, Japan

Active Research Grants

Co-Principal Investigator, Disease Risks Associated with Spay and Neuter: A Breed-Specific, Gender-Specific Perspective, Benjamin Hart (Principal Investigator), Canine Health Foundation

Principal Investigator, TTouch or Petitations for Dogs and Owners--Are They Meaningful to Anxious Dogs?, (Principal Investigator), UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health

Most Recent 10 Publications

  • Lynette A. Hart: Elephant-initiated interactions with humans: individual differences and specific preferences in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) 2017 Rossman ZT, Padfield C, Young D, Hart LA Elephant-initiated interactions with humans: individual differences and specific preferences in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) Front Vet Sci,
  • Lynette A. Hart: When Yawning Occurs in Elephants 2017 Rossman ZT, Hart BL, Greco BJ, Young D, Padfield C, Weidner L, Gates J, Hart LA When Yawning Occurs in Elephants Front Vet Sci,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Assistance Dogs: Historic Patterns and Roles of Dogs Placed by ADI or IGDF Accredited Facilities and by Non-Accredited U.S. Facilities. 2017 Walther S, Yamamoto M, Thigpen AP, Garcia A, Willits NH, Hart LA Assistance Dogs: Historic Patterns and Roles of Dogs Placed by ADI or IGDF Accredited Facilities and by Non-Accredited U.S. Facilities. Front Vet Sci,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence 2016 Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Willits NH Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence Veterinary Medicine and Science ,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Genetic and behavioural characteristics of the St. Kitts 'island dog' 2016 Grigg EK, Nibblett BM, Sacks BN, Hack R, Serpell JA, Hart L Genetic and behavioural characteristics of the St. Kitts 'island dog' Appl Anim Behav Sci,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Exploring the borderlands between wild and non-wild animals: wildlife law and policy in transition 2015 Wandesforde-Smith G, Hart LA Exploring the borderlands between wild and non-wild animals: wildlife law and policy in transition J Intl Wildlife Law Policy,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Registrations of assistance dogs in California for identification tags: 1999-2012 2015 Yamamoto M, Lopez MT, Hart LA Registrations of assistance dogs in California for identification tags: 1999-2012 PLoS One,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Physical activity and welfare of guide dogs with their partners 2015 Yamamoto M, Yamamoto M, Hart LA Physical activity and welfare of guide dogs with their partners Anthrozoos,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Obstacles and anticipated problems associated with acquiring assistance dogs, as expressed by Japanese people with physical disabilities 2014 Yamamoto M, Hart LA, Ohta M, Matsumoto K, Ohtani N Obstacles and anticipated problems associated with acquiring assistance dogs, as expressed by Japanese people with physical disabilities Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin,
  • Lynette A. Hart: Biodiversity conservation and protected areas in China: Science, law and the obdurate party-state 2014 Wandesforde-Smith G, Denninger Snyder K, Hart LA Biodiversity conservation and protected areas in China: Science, law and the obdurate party-state J Int Wildl Law Policy,

Most Recent 5 Book Chapters

2016 Hart LA, Yamamoto M: The Human-Animal Bond, Aiello S, (ed), Merck Veterinary Manual, 11th ed, Kenilworth, NJ. 1575-1581.

2016 Hart LA, Yamamoto M: Chapter 13: Dogs as helping partners and companions for humans, Serpell J, (ed), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People, Second Edition, England. 247-70.

2016 Hart BL, Hart LA: Chapter 7: Breed and gender differences in dog behavior, Serpell J, (ed), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People, Second Edition, England. 118-32.

2015 Hart LA, Yamamoto M: Chapter 6: Recruiting psychosocial health effects of animals for families and communities: transitioning into practice, Fine A, (ed), Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, 4th ed, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 53-67.

2014 Hart LA, Yamamoto M: Overview of the Human-Animal Bond, Kahn CM, (ed), Merck Veterinary Manual. 18 pgs.