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Contact: Caroline Campbell
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               caroline.campbell@ketchum.com
 


ATLANTA'S PREMIER ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS JOIN FORCES TO PROMOTE BENEFITS OF HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND

PAWSitive InterAction to Sponsor First Annual Educational Summit


Atlanta, GA (April 16, 2002) - PAWSitive InterAction Inc., a non-profit alliance of premier local organizations dedicated to caring for animals, officially introduces itself to the Atlanta community today. The group's mission is to collectively connect Atlanta with resources, expertise and education designed to further understanding of the positive benefits of the relationships between humans and animals.

PAWSitive InterAction is made up of representatives from organizations that are committed to celebrating the human-animal bond through their ongoing work in the community.

Founding Members
The initial concept of PAWSitive InterAction was born in May of 2001 when Merial relocated its North American headquarters from New Jersey to Georgia. Wanting to immediately begin a positive relationship with Atlanta's animal community, Merial donated much-needed misting fans to Zoo Atlanta's gorillas to help them through the summer heat. Building on this relationship, Zoo Atlanta and Merial joined forces with three additional animal organizations: Atlanta Humane Society, Happy Tails Pet Therapy and Pets are Loving Support (P.A.L.S.). This group rallied around the common mission of promoting and celebrating the human-animal bond -- a mission each group espoused in their daily individual operations.
  • Atlanta Humane Society: Founded in 1873, the Society exists for the purpose of preventing cruelty, relieving suffering, providing humane treatment for animals, and encouraging the human/animal bond on a regional basis in the state of Georgia.
  • Happy Tails Pet Therapy: Founded in 1991, Happy Tails is a non-profit organization of dedicated volunteers and their pets that perform animal-assisted therapy visits for healthcare facilities, social agencies and special needs programs.
  • Merial: An innovation-driven animal health leader, Merial is committed to enhancing the health and well-being of animals. Merial is the world's largest veterinary pharmaceutical company.
  • Pets are Loving Support (P.A.L.S.): Founded in 1990, P.A.L.S. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide ongoing care and support for pets of persons living with HIV/AIDS, critical illnesses and other disabilities in the Atlanta area.
  • Zoo Atlanta: Zoo Atlanta is empowered to exhibit, interpret, study and care for wildlife in superior environments, to conserve biodiversity throughout the world, to educate, enlighten and entertain the public and to contribute to the cultural life of the community.
"Whether someone owns a pet, has participated in pet therapy or simply enjoys visiting the Zoo, the presence of animals in our lives has tremendous positive effects," explains Nalini Saligram, director of corporate communications for Merial. "Merial's goal in supporting this endeavor is to impact the quality of lives of Atlantans by bringing to the forefront the benefits of human-animal relationships."

Inaugural Event
PAWSitive InterAction will sponsor a two-day educational summit on the human-animal bond May 6th and 7th; this inaugural event will be held at Zoo Atlanta. Speakers will include Dr. Marty Becker, veterinary contributor to "Good Morning America" and Dr. Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. Additional components of the event will enrich participants' understanding of the emotional, psychological and health benefits of human-animal interaction.

"The Summit will feature the nation's experts in the human-animal bond arena," said Rita McManamon, Director, Conservation Action Resource Center and Senior Veterinarian, Zoo Atlanta and the President of PAWSitive InterAction. "The event will expose our city and community to more scientific data and anecdotes that will make Atlanta more animal-loving."

About PAWSitive InterAction
PAWSitive InterAction fosters opportunities for community members to experience and become educated on the human-animal bond. The non-profit organization's mission is to collectively connect Atlanta with resources, expertise and education designed to further understanding of the positive benefits of the relationships between humans and animals. For more information about PAWSitive InterAction and some of the data supporting the human-animal bond, visit www.PAWSitiveInterAction.org.

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