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Animals 2018, 8(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020027

The Impact of Excluding Food Guarding from a Standardized Behavioral Canine Assessment in Animal Shelters

1
Strategy, Research and Development, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), New York, NY 10018, USA
2
Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team, Anti-Cruelty Group, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), New York, NY 10018, USA
3
Equine Welfare, Anti-Cruelty Group, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), New York, NY 10018, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 November 2017 / Revised: 3 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Abstract

Many shelters euthanize or restrict adoptions for dogs that exhibit food guarding while in the animal shelter. However, previous research showed that only half the dogs exhibiting food guarding during an assessment food guard in the home. So, dogs are often misidentified as future food guarders during shelter assessments. We examined the impact of shelters omitting food guarding assessments. Nine shelters conducted a two-month baseline period of assessing for food guarding followed by a two-month investigative period during which they omitted the food guarding assessment. Dogs that guarded their food during a standardized assessment were less likely to be adopted, had a longer shelter stay, and were more likely to be euthanized. When the shelters stopped assessing for food guarding, there was no significant difference in the rate of returns of food guarding dogs, even though more dogs were adopted because fewer were identified with food guarding behavior. Additionally, the number of injuries to staff, volunteers, and adopters was low (104 incidents from a total of 14,180 dogs) and did not change when the food guarding assessment was omitted. These results support a recommendation that shelters discontinue the food guarding assessment. View Full-Text
Keywords: food guarding; shelter assessment; dogs; aggression; animal shelter; euthanasia; SAFER; behavior assessments; ASPCA food guarding; shelter assessment; dogs; aggression; animal shelter; euthanasia; SAFER; behavior assessments; ASPCA
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Mohan-Gibbons, H.; Dolan, E.D.; Reid, P.; Slater, M.R.; Mulligan, H.; Weiss, E. The Impact of Excluding Food Guarding from a Standardized Behavioral Canine Assessment in Animal Shelters. Animals 2018, 8, 27.

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