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Open AccessArticle

Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters

Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Institute for Human-Animal Connection, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA
Animals 2018, 8(3), 36;
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Historically, older cats and dogs have been particularly at-risk for euthanasia in animal shelters due to their lower perceived appeal for adoption. This study found that the condition at intake had the greatest impact on the outcomes of older cats and dogs. Additionally, the application of specialized veterinary care, such as orthopedic surgery or chronic disease maintenance, is discussed as factors that inform higher rates of live outcomes for these senior companion animals. These findings demonstrate that if shelters integrate practices that address the specific needs of ageing companion animals, the live outcomes for this population can increase.
With advances in veterinary medicine that can increase the lifespan of cats and dogs and the effectiveness of spay/neuter programs in reducing the juvenile population of pets, animal shelters are experiencing an increasing population of older companion animals in their care. The purpose of this study was to assess the factors that inform the outcomes of these older cats and dogs. The sample consisted of 124 cats and 122 dogs that were over the age of 84 months (seven years) who were taken into a shelter over a one-year period. To assess the impact of condition at intake on the outcome for the senior animals, a multinomial logistic regression was performed. These findings indicate that preventative programming that can address the reasons these older animals are surrendered, as well as advancements in specialized medical or behavioral programs for ageing companion animals, may support an increase in live outcomes for older cats and dogs in shelters. Further study is needed to evaluate how the quality of life of older animals is impacted by remaining in the care of shelters rather than being euthanized. View Full-Text
Keywords: companion animals; cat; dog; shelter; outcomes; euthanasia; geriatric; length of stay companion animals; cat; dog; shelter; outcomes; euthanasia; geriatric; length of stay
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Hawes, S.; Kerrigan, J.; Morris, K. Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters. Animals 2018, 8, 36.

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