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Goodbye to a Good Friend: An Exploration of the Re-Homing of Cats and Dogs in the U.S.

October 9, 2015

When dogs and cats are not retained in a home, they are re-homed to somewhere, and while there is a collection of research around relinquishment to shelters, little is known about the general re-homing picture. A cross sectional random digit dial survey was conducted with an aim to learn more about who is re-homing, where they are re-homing and why they are re-homing owned dogs and cats in the US. We found the prevalence of re-homing in five years at 6% making for an estimated 6.12 million household re-homing pets every five years. Pets were most likely to be re-homed by being given to a friend or family member (37%) closely followed by being taken to a shelter. Those who re-homed due to a reason related to the pet as opposed to reasons such as family issues were more likely to re-home to a shelter. For respondents who rented, housing reasons were the number one reason for re-homing, and for respondents of lower income, they were significantly more likely to re-home due to cost and housing issues as opposed to pet related issues. We conclude that some reasons for re-homing are not easily modified and humane re-homing is the best option, but that there are many areas in which intervention and prevention programs may increase retention.

ASPCA Annual Report 2014

July 17, 2015

The ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. Established in New York in 1866, the ASPCA is the oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere and now ranks among the largest in the world, providing local and national leadership in three key areas: caring for pet parents and pets, providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals, and serving victims of animal cruelty.The ASPCA's 2014 Annual Report summarizes achievements in helping or saving animals by each ASPCA division, including Anti-Cruelty, Animal Health Services, Community Outreach, and Government Relations. The Annual Report also includes information about the ASPCA's 2014 corporate partners and its foundation, corporate, and major individual donors, and presents highlights of the organization's grantmaking during the year totaling approximately $14.4 million made possible by this support.

Modification of the Feline-Ality Assessment and the Ability to Predict Adopted Cats' Behaviors in Their New Homes

February 5, 2015

It is estimated that 2.5 million cats enter animal shelters in the United States every year and as few as 20% leave the shelter alive. Of those adopted, the greatest risk to post-adoption human animal bond is unrealistic expectations set by the adopter. The ASPCA's Meet Your Match Feline-ality adoption program was developed to provide adopters with an accurate assessment of an adult cat's future behavior in the home. However, the original Feline-ality required a three-day hold time to collect cat behaviors on a data card, which was challenging for some shelters. This research involved creating a survey to determine in-home feline behavior post adoption and explored the predictive ability of the in-shelter assessment without the data card. Our results show that the original Feline-ality assessment and our modified version were predictive of feline behavior post adoption. Our modified version also decreased hold time for cats to one day. Shelters interested in increasing cat adoptions, decreasing length of stay and improving the adoption experience can now implement the modified version for future feline adoption success.

Do Policy Based Adoptions Increase the Care a Pet Receives? An Exploration of a Shift to Conversation Based Adoptions at One Shelter

October 20, 2014

Animal shelters' adoption processes vary across the US. Some programs have rigorous policy-based programs in which potential adopters are screened in or out based on their responses to a series of qualifying questions. Some other organizations use a conversation-based approach without policies around such things as income, vaccination status of animals in the home, and landlord approval. Those organizations that use the policy-based approach do so with the premise that the animal will be loved and cared for better by those that meet their criteria. Policy-based adoptions can be arduous and can decrease adoptions, as, for example, those living in apartments that are unable to prove their landlord accepts pets are turned away. We hypothesized that meeting or not meeting policy-based criteria would have no impact on the care or bond of the adopter with the pet. This study examined the quality of care and attachment in two groups of adopters, a group that adopted while policy based adoptions were in place and a group that adopted when policies were eliminated. There were no substantial differences between the two groups. This important finding indicates that those that adopt through conversation-based adoptions (policy-free) provide similar high-quality care and are just as likely to be highly bonded to their pet as those that adopt through policy based adoptions.

Effects of a Geographically-Targeted Intervention and Creative Outreach to Reduce Shelter Intake in Portland, Oregon

July 18, 2014

Animal shelters focus much of their efforts towards decreasing euthanasia and one of the best ways to reduce euthanasia risk may be to prevent cats and dogs from ever entering a shelter. This study, conducted in Portland, Oregon, relied on the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to precisely and scientifically identify an intervention area (with high shelter intake) and to identify control areas to compare the project results with community-wide trends. The intervention itself was designed and implemented in a comprehensive way by seeking numerous paths to engage pet owners and reduce shelter intake of cats and Pit Bull type dogs. This research highlighted the ability of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to significantly improve a community's capacity to identify the most appropriate locations to focus resources and to closely track and measure interventions. Portland's targeted intervention to reduce shelter intake utilized many outreach tools with varying levels of impact. The overall intervention yielded a reduction in intake of owned cats that was greater in total numbers and percentage than four control areas. Furthermore, this work identified a percentage of cat spay/neuter out of the estimated number of owned, originally intact cats within the intervention and control areas. As percentages approached or surpassed 20%, those areas realized larger intake reductions than control areas with lower percentages.

Large Dog Relinquishment to Two Municipal Facilities in New York City and Washington, D.C.: Identifying Targets for Intervention

July 8, 2014

While the overall trend in euthanasia has been decreasing nationally, large dogs are at a higher risk of euthanasia than other sized dogs in most animal shelters in the United States. We hypothesized one way to increase the lives saved with respect to these large dogs is to keep them home when possible. In order to develop solutions to decrease relinquishment, a survey was developed to learn more about the reasons owners relinquish large dogs. The survey was administered to owners relinquishing their dogs at two large municipal facilities, one in New York City and one in Washington, D.C. There were 157 responses between the two facilities. We found both significant similarities and differences between respondents and their dogs from the two cities. We identified opportunities to potentially support future relinquishers and found that targets for interventions are likely different in each community.

ASPCA Annual Report 2013

July 1, 2014

The ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. Established in New York in 1866, the ASPCA is the oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere and now ranks among the largest in the world, providing local and national leadership in three key areas: caring for pet parents and pets, providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals, and serving victims of animal cruelty.The ASPCA's 2013 Annual Report summarizes achievements in helping or saving animals by each ASPCA division, including Anti-Cruelty, Animal Health, Community Outreach, Government Relations, and Media & Communications. The Annual Report also includes information about the ASPCA's 2013 corporate partners and its foundation, corporate, and major individual donors, and presents highlights of the organization's grantmaking during the year totaling approximately $17.5 million made possible by this support.

Evaluation of a Novel Dog Adoption Program in Two US Communities

March 24, 2014

Millions of dogs enter animal welfare organizations every year and only a fraction of them are adopted. Despite the most recent American Pet Products Association (APPA) data that nearly half the US population owns a dog, only 20% acquired their dog from an animal welfare organization. Studies show that people consider adopting from an animal shelter more often than they actually do, which indicates a potential market increase if programs can make shelter dogs more visible to adopters. This research focused on a novel adoption program where shelter dogs were transferred into foster homes who were tasked with finding an adopter. Shelter dogs were placed in the path of potential adopters and bypassed the need for the adopter to go to the shelter. The results show that this novel program was effective in a variety of ways including getting dogs adopted. Although length of stay was significantly longer for dogs in the program, the dogs were in a home environment, not taking up kennel space in the shelter. The program also had a lower rate of returns than dogs adopted at the shelter. The foster program tapped adopters in different geographical segments of the community than the dogs adopted from the shelter. By bringing shelter dogs to where adopters spend their time (ex: restaurants, parks, hair salons), the program potentially captured a segment of the population who might have obtained their dog from other sources besides the shelter (such as breeders or pet stores). This novel approach can be an effective method for adoption, has many benefits for shelters, and can tap into a new adopter market by engaging their community in a new way.

Physical and Behavioral Measures that Predict Cats' Socialization in an Animal Shelter Environment during a Three-Day Period

December 18, 2013

Information from surveys completed by the cats' caregivers provided a score for the level of socialization of cats. We examined the effectiveness of structured assessments and measures in their ability to distinguish More and Less Socialized cats in a shelter-like setting over a three day period. Statistical models were developed that best predicted More and Less Socialized cats. Measures from these models were used to calculate a point system where more points indicated more socialization. In combination with key socialized behaviors, these points were able to fairly accurately distinguish More Socialized from Less Socialized cats.

Should Dogs and Cats be Given as Gifts?

October 16, 2013

Policies that state pets should not be adopted as gifts are prevalent at animal welfare organizations, despite the fact that this belief is unfounded. Denying adopters who intend to give the animals as gifts may unnecessarily impede the overarching goal of increasing adoptions of pets from our nations' shelter system. We found that receiving a dog or cat as a gift was not associated with impact on self-perceived love/attachment, or whether the dog or cat was still in the home. These results suggest there is no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as a gift.

Working Together to Save Animals' Lives: The ASPCA's 2012 Annual Report

July 15, 2013

The ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. Established in New York in 1866, the ASPCA is the oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere and now ranks among the largest in the world, providing local and national leadership in three key areas: caring for pet parents and pets, providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals, and serving victims of animal cruelty.The ASPCA's 2012 Annual Report summarizes achievements in helping or saving animals by each ASPCA division, including Anti-Cruelty, Animal Health, Community Outreach, Government Relations, and Media & Communications. The Annual Report also includes information about the ASPCA's 2012 corporate partners and its foundation, corporate, and major individual donors, and presents highlights of the organization's $17 million in grantmaking during the year made possible by this support.

Community Partnering as a Tool for Improving Live Release Rate in Animal Shelters in the United States

June 24, 2013

Collaboration among all shelters and nonhuman animal welfare groups within a community along with the transparent, shared reporting of uniform data have been promoted as effective ways to increase the number of animals' lives saved. This article summarizes the shelter intakes, outcomes, and live release rate (LRR) from 6 geographically diverse communities participating in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Partnership program for 5 years (2007 -- 2011). This program is both a grant program and a coaching program that works to focus the community partners on a data-driven goal using standardized definitions and metrics. There was improvement in LRR in all communities over time regardless of intake numbers, human population, or mix of dogs/puppies and cats/kittens entering shelters. Averaged across all communities over the 5-year period, there was an overall improvement in LRR of 62%. Within individual communities, the degree of improvement ranged from 18% to 96%. This improvement in LRR was accomplished through a wide variety of programs in each community based on resources and interests during the time period.