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Article

Don’t Bring Me a Dog…I’ll Just Keep It”: Understanding Unplanned Dog Acquisitions Amongst a Sample of Dog Owners Attending Canine Health and Welfare Community Events in the United Kingdom

Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK
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Academic Editor: Paola Maria Valsecchi
Animals 2021, 11(3), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030605
Received: 1 February 2021 / Revised: 18 February 2021 / Accepted: 22 February 2021 / Published: 25 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Barriers to and Drivers of Responsible Dog Ownership)
Dogs are the most common companion animal in the United Kingdom; however, the pet dog acquisition process is not fully understood. It is important that stakeholders, including those working in the canine welfare sector, understand this process to enable them to provide appropriate support for dog owners across the stages of acquisition and ownership. This paper reports on qualitative findings from interviews conducted with dog owners, which sought to understand their motivations for dog acquisition. It was found that many owners had not intended to acquire a dog. In some cases, people had taken on a dog when a relative or friend became unable to care for the dog, whilst others had happened upon a dog in need. Emotional connections with the dog or a desire to help an animal in need were commonly reported motivations for keeping the dog. More research is needed to understand how common unplanned acquisitions are.
Understanding the factors that result in people becoming dog owners is key to developing messaging around responsible acquisition and providing appropriate support for prospective owners to ensure a strong dog–owner bond and optimise dog welfare. This qualitative study investigated factors that influence pet dog acquisition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 142 sets of dog owners/caretakers at 23 Dogs Trust community events. Interviews focused on the motivations and influences that impacted how people acquired their dogs. Transcribed interviews and notes were thematically analysed. Two acquisition types were reported, that each accounted for half of our interviewees’ experiences: planned and unplanned. Whilst planned acquisitions involved an intentional search for a dog, unplanned acquisitions occurred following an unexpected and unsought opportunity to acquire one. Unplanned acquisitions frequently involved a participant’s family or friends, people happening upon a dog in need, or dogs received as gifts. Motivations for deciding to take the dog included emotional attachments and a desire to help a vulnerable animal. Many reported making the decision to acquire the dog without hesitation and without conducting any pre-acquisition research. These findings present valuable insights for designers of interventions promoting responsible acquisition and ownership, because there is minimal opportunity to deliver messaging with these unplanned acquisitions. Additionally, these findings may guide future research to develop more complete understandings of the acquisition process. Further studies are required to understand the prevalence of unplanned acquisitions. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; dog acquisition; dog ownership; pets; qualitative research dogs; dog acquisition; dog ownership; pets; qualitative research
MDPI and ACS Style

Holland, K.E.; Mead, R.; Casey, R.A.; Upjohn, M.M.; Christley, R.M. “Don’t Bring Me a Dog…I’ll Just Keep It”: Understanding Unplanned Dog Acquisitions Amongst a Sample of Dog Owners Attending Canine Health and Welfare Community Events in the United Kingdom. Animals 2021, 11, 605. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030605

AMA Style

Holland KE, Mead R, Casey RA, Upjohn MM, Christley RM. “Don’t Bring Me a Dog…I’ll Just Keep It”: Understanding Unplanned Dog Acquisitions Amongst a Sample of Dog Owners Attending Canine Health and Welfare Community Events in the United Kingdom. Animals. 2021; 11(3):605. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030605

Chicago/Turabian Style

Holland, Katrina E., Rebecca Mead, Rachel A. Casey, Melissa M. Upjohn, and Robert M. Christley 2021. "“Don’t Bring Me a Dog…I’ll Just Keep It”: Understanding Unplanned Dog Acquisitions Amongst a Sample of Dog Owners Attending Canine Health and Welfare Community Events in the United Kingdom" Animals 11, no. 3: 605. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030605

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