Special Issue "Animal Sheltering"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Companion Animals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Jacquie Rand

1 School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, QLD 4343
2 Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD, 4069, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce a Special Issue on “Animal Sheltering” of Animals, devoted to new research aimed at reducing the number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters and municipal animal control facilities. This Special Issue is focused on improving our understanding of the causes of relinquishment, or of pets being lost, and strategies to reduce them. It is also aimed at identifying strategies that increase live release and positively impact return to owner, adoptions, fostering and the role of rescue groups.

Although in many countries there has been a significant reduction in the number of healthy and treatable animals euthanized in shelters and animal control facilities, unacceptable numbers are still being euthanized. Peer-reviewed studies that document effective strategies are vital to provide evidence for shelter managers, boards, government agencies and other policy makers to embrace change to save lives. Euthanasia of animals also has significant impact on staff, and evidence of this negative impact, and the positive impact of introducing life-saving strategies are important to convince management and authorities of the need to change.

To achieve zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in shelters and municipal facilities, it is vital that research is fostered that improves our understanding of the factors that reduce pets being relinquished or lost, and effective strategies to save lives. Therefore, I invite researchers to submit original manuscripts that will advance our knowledge of ways to reduce intake and increase live release of animals from shelters and municipal animal control facilities.

We are delighted to announce that Maddie's Fund®, Found Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are generously providing sponsorship for this Special Issue "Animal Sheltering", and therefore the publication fee payable by authors for accepted articles will be waived.

Prof. Jacquie Rand
Guest Editor

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Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Shelter
  • animal control
  • euthanasia
  • reclaim
  • rehoming
  • adoption
  • live release
  • dogs
  • cats
  • kittens
  • puppies
  • spay/neuter
  • microchipping
  • surrender
  • lost
  • relinquishment
  • stray
  • identification

Published Papers (26 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Strategies to Reduce the Euthanasia of Impounded Dogs and Cats Used by Councils in Victoria, Australia
Animals 2018, 8(7), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8070100
Received: 13 March 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 14 June 2018 / Published: 21 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Using euthanasia to manage dog and cat overpopulation causes health issues and emotional stress in employees involved, increases staff turnover, and has financial, moral and ethical ramifications for communities. Welfare agencies and local government agencies (councils) share responsibility for managing companion animal populations. [...] Read more.
Using euthanasia to manage dog and cat overpopulation causes health issues and emotional stress in employees involved, increases staff turnover, and has financial, moral and ethical ramifications for communities. Welfare agencies and local government agencies (councils) share responsibility for managing companion animal populations. This study investigated Australian councils in the state of Victoria, to identify strategies used to reduce euthanasia. Statistics regarding animal populations, registration, intake, reclaim, rehome and euthanasia were obtained from the Domestic Animal Management Plan of each council. Of the 79 Victorian councils, 74% achieved ≤10% euthanasia of impounded dogs, which is widely quoted as zero euthanasia of adoptable and treatable animals. The mean euthanasia rates for cats by the councils was 48%, with only one council achieving a euthanasia rate of ≤10% for cats. Mean reclaim rates for dogs were higher (73%) than for cats (13%), as was the mean proportion of unclaimed dogs rehomed (71%), compared to cats (45%). Telephone questionnaires were conducted with animal management officers from 35 councils (44%). Those with low euthanasia rates had high reclaim rates and/or rehome rates. Reclaim, rehome and euthanasia rates for dogs and cats were not significantly different between councils that operated their own pound facilities and those that utilized the services of welfare organizations to operate pounds on behalf of the council. More council managers believed they would never achieve ≤10% euthanasia for cats (49%) than for dogs (11%). A variety of strategies were used by councils to achieve high reclaim and rehoming rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Open AccessArticle
Changes Associated with Improved Outcomes for Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters from 2011 to 2016
Animals 2018, 8(6), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060095
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 12 June 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (837 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This retrospective study of cat admissions to RSPCA Queensland shelters describes changes associated with improved outcomes ending in live release in 2016 compared to 2011. There were 13,911 cat admissions in 2011 and 13,220 in 2016, with approximately 50% in both years admitted [...] Read more.
This retrospective study of cat admissions to RSPCA Queensland shelters describes changes associated with improved outcomes ending in live release in 2016 compared to 2011. There were 13,911 cat admissions in 2011 and 13,220 in 2016, with approximately 50% in both years admitted as strays from the general public or council contracts. In contrast, owner surrenders halved from 30% to 15% of admissions. Percentages of admissions ending in euthanasia decreased from 58% to 15%. Only 5% of cat admissions were reclaimed in each of these years, but the percentage rehomed increased from 34% to 74%, of which 61% of the increase was contributed by in-shelter adoptions and 39% from non-shelter sites, predominately retail partnerships. The percentage temporarily fostered until rehoming doubled. In 2011, euthanasias were most common for medical (32% of all euthanasias), behavioral (36%) and age/shelter number (30%) reasons, whereas in 2016, 69% of euthanasias were for medical reasons. The number of young kittens euthanized decreased from 1116 in 2011 to 22 in 2016. The number of cats classified as feral and euthanized decreased from 1178 to 132, in association with increased time for assessment of behavior and increased use of behavior modification programs and foster care. We attribute the improved cat outcomes to strategies that increased adoptions and reduced euthanasia of young kittens and poorly socialized cats, including foster programs. To achieve further decreases in euthanasia, strategies to decrease intake would be highly beneficial, such as those targeted to reduce stray cat admissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Post-Adoption Problem Behaviours in Adolescent and Adult Dogs Rehomed through a New Zealand Animal Shelter
Animals 2018, 8(6), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060093
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 5 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
Problem behaviours in dogs rehomed through animal shelters can jeopardise the long-term success of adoptions. In this study, data from 61 adolescent and adult dog adoptions that occurred through an animal shelter in Auckland, New Zealand, from 1 November 2015 to 31 July [...] Read more.
Problem behaviours in dogs rehomed through animal shelters can jeopardise the long-term success of adoptions. In this study, data from 61 adolescent and adult dog adoptions that occurred through an animal shelter in Auckland, New Zealand, from 1 November 2015 to 31 July 2016 were analysed to describe the frequency of problem behaviours and level of adopter concern at different time points post-adoption. Amongst the 57 dogs with behavioural information available, 40 (70%) had at least one reported problem behaviour, and the most frequently reported problem behaviours were poor manners (46%), destruction of household items (30%), and excessively high energy (28%). Very few dogs showed territorial aggression when objects or food items were removed (2% and 4%, respectively). However, aggression toward people or other dogs was frequently reported (19% and 19%, respectively). Of the 54 adopters that provided a response about their level of concern over their dog’s problem behaviours, 24 (44%) were not concerned at all, 23 (43%) were a little concerned, 4 (7%) were moderately concerned, and 3 (6%) were very concerned. Based on our interpretation of these findings, post-adoption support programmes targeted toward teaching adopters how to correctly train their dogs may be beneficial to increasing adoption satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Open AccessArticle
Application of a Protocol Based on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to Manage Unowned Urban Cats on an Australian University Campus
Animals 2018, 8(5), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050077
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 11 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (818 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In August 2008, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, commenced a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program to manage the population of approximately 69 free-roaming unowned urban cats on its Kensington campus. The goals of the program included an ongoing audit of [...] Read more.
In August 2008, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, commenced a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program to manage the population of approximately 69 free-roaming unowned urban cats on its Kensington campus. The goals of the program included an ongoing audit of cats on campus, stabilization of cat numbers through TNR, and a subsequent reduction in cat numbers over time while maintaining the health of remaining campus cats. Continuation of the TNR program over nine years resulted in a current population, as of September 2017, of 15 cats, all desexed (78% reduction). Regular monitoring of the cats through a daily feeding program identified a further 34 cats that immigrated on to campus since initiation of the program; these comprised 28 adult cats (16 unsocialized, 12 socialized) and six solitary kittens. In addition, 19 kittens were born on campus, 14 of which were born to immigrant pregnant females. Unsocialized adult immigrants were absorbed into the resident campus population. Where possible, socialized adult immigrants, solitary kittens, and campus-born kittens were removed from campus through rehoming. Overall, reasons for reductions in the cat population (original residents, immigrants, campus-born kittens; n = 122) included rehoming or return to owner (30%), death/euthanasia (30%) and disappearance (29%). This successful animal management program received some initial funding from the university to support desexing, but was subsequently funded through donations, and continues with the university’s approval and support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of a Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return Pilot Study in Auckland, New Zealand
Animals 2018, 8(5), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050073
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 26 April 2018 / Accepted: 7 May 2018 / Published: 13 May 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3525 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a need for effective and humane management tools to manage urban stray cats and minimise negative impacts associated with stray cats. One such tool is targeted trap-neuter-return (TTNR), but no concerted implementation of this technique or formal assessments have been reported. [...] Read more.
There is a need for effective and humane management tools to manage urban stray cats and minimise negative impacts associated with stray cats. One such tool is targeted trap-neuter-return (TTNR), but no concerted implementation of this technique or formal assessments have been reported. To address this deficit, a TTNR programme was implemented and assessed in one Auckland suburb from May 2015 to June 2016; the programme sterilised and returned 348 cats (4.2 cats/1000 residents). Assessment was based on the number of incoming felines; stray, unsocialised cats euthanased; unsocialised, unowned cats sterilised and returned (independently of the TTNR programme); and neonatal/underage euthanasias. Incoming stray felines, underage euthanasias, and unsocialised stray cat euthanasias were all reduced for the targeted suburb when compared for the years before and after the programme (the percentage reduction in these parameters was −39, −17, −34, −7, and −47, respectively). These outcome measures had a greater reduction in the targeted suburb compared to the Auckland suburbs not targeted by the TTNR programme (p < 0.01), although causation cannot be inferred, as a variety of reasons could have contributed to the changes. This pilot programme suggests that TTNR could be a valuable, humane cat management tool in urban New Zealand, and further assessment is warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of an Integrated Program of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter
Animals 2018, 8(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8040055
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 7 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 13 April 2018
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (2350 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Available evidence indicates that overall levels of feline intake and euthanasia at U.S. shelters have significantly declined in recent decades. Nevertheless, millions of cats, many of them free-roaming, continue to be admitted to shelters each year. In some locations, as many as 70% [...] Read more.
Available evidence indicates that overall levels of feline intake and euthanasia at U.S. shelters have significantly declined in recent decades. Nevertheless, millions of cats, many of them free-roaming, continue to be admitted to shelters each year. In some locations, as many as 70% of cats, perhaps up to one million or more per year nationally, are euthanized. New approaches, including return-to-field (RTF) and targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR) appear to have transformative potential. The purpose of the present study was to examine changes in feline intake and euthanasia, as well as additional associated metrics, at a municipal animal shelter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after institutionalized RTF and targeted TNR protocols, together referred to as a community cat program (CCP), were added to ongoing community-based TNR efforts and a pilot RTF initiative. Over the course of the CCP, which ran from April 2012 to March 2015, 11,746 cats were trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, and returned or adopted. Feline euthanasia at the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department (AAWD) declined by 84.1% and feline intake dropped by 37.6% over three years; the live release rate (LRR) increased by 47.7% due primarily to these reductions in both intake and euthanasia. Modest increases in the percentage of cats returned to owner (RTO) and the adoption rate were also observed, although both metrics decreased on an absolute basis, while the number of calls to the city about dead cats declined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Associated with High Live Release for Dogs at a Large, Open-Admission, Municipal Shelter
Animals 2018, 8(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8040045
Received: 5 December 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2018 / Accepted: 26 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2653 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Better understanding of factors contributing to live release (rehoming) may help shelters improve outcomes. In this cross-sectional, exploratory, non-interventional study, data for all intakes (n = 21,409) for dogs eligible for rehoming from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016 are analyzed to [...] Read more.
Better understanding of factors contributing to live release (rehoming) may help shelters improve outcomes. In this cross-sectional, exploratory, non-interventional study, data for all intakes (n = 21,409) for dogs eligible for rehoming from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016 are analyzed to identify such factors. Live release was >88%. A total of 1510 (7.1%) dogs interacted with the foster care system, 98.9% of whom had live release. Foster care increased the odds of live release by about five-fold for all dogs (odds ratio (OR) 5.30 (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.13; 8.97), p < 0.001) and by >20-fold for adult dogs (OR 22.2 (95% CI: 5.48; 90.2), p < 0.001) compared to first-time owner-surrendered dogs. Dogs returned from foster care had a 70% reduction in health concerns, as judged by intake staff, compared with dogs sent to foster. In addition to saving 2882 lives, the rescue network utilized by this shelter was estimated as having reduced in-shelter care needs by 13,409 animal care-days over two years. Dogs returned from adoption also had increased odds of live release (OR 4.74 (95% CI: 3.02; 7.44), p < 0.0001). Nearly a third (29.6%) of dogs originally brought in by owners for euthanasia were determined to be potentially savable, and a fifth of the original group (21.1%) were ultimately placed. Less than 4% of dogs presented with behavioral concerns at intake. It remains to be determined whether other large, open intake shelters performing animal control can replicate these results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters
Animals 2018, 8(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8030036
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (814 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
“Pets Negotiable”: How Do the Perspectives of Landlords and Property Managers Compare with Those of Younger Tenants with Dogs?
Animals 2018, 8(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8030032
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 24 February 2018 / Published: 27 February 2018
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Abstract
Previous research has shown that housing insecurity contributes to animal relinquishment and that tenants with dogs face disadvantages in the rental market. Still, little is known about how dog owners navigate rental markets, nor how landlords and property managers perceive dogs and other [...] Read more.
Previous research has shown that housing insecurity contributes to animal relinquishment and that tenants with dogs face disadvantages in the rental market. Still, little is known about how dog owners navigate rental markets, nor how landlords and property managers perceive dogs and other pets. This case study reports on in-depth interviews with younger tenants with dogs and on open-ended survey responses from landlords and property managers. In their housing searches, tenants with dogs reported feeling powerless in negotiations and feeling discriminated against. They described settling for substandard properties, often located in less desirable neighborhoods. Also, some said they felt obliged to stay put in these rentals, given how difficult it had been to find a place that would accommodate their dogs. Meanwhile, landlords and property managers indicated that listings advertised as “pet-friendly” tend to receive more applicants than listings in which pets are prohibited. Suggestions for improvement included meeting pets prior to signing the lease; getting everything in writing; steering clear from furnished units; charging utilities to tenants; and speeding up the pet approval process when dealing with condominium boards. These suggestions offer implications for future research, partnerships, and policy options to improve the prospects of pets and their people in rental housing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Comparison of Cats (Felis silvestris catus) Housed in Groups and Single Cages at a Shelter: A Retrospective Matched Cohort Study
Animals 2018, 8(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020029
Received: 8 December 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 11 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
PDF Full-text (1100 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The merits of various housing options for domestic cats in shelters have been debated. However, comparisons are difficult to interpret because cats are typically not able to be randomly assigned to different housing conditions. In the current study, we attempted to address some [...] Read more.
The merits of various housing options for domestic cats in shelters have been debated. However, comparisons are difficult to interpret because cats are typically not able to be randomly assigned to different housing conditions. In the current study, we attempted to address some of these issues by creating a retrospective matched cohort of cats in two housing types. Cats in group housing (GH) were matched with cats in single housing (SH) that were the same age, sex, breed, coat color, and size. Altogether we were able to find a match for 110 GH cats. We compared these two groups on several measures related to their experience at the shelter such as moves and the development of behavioral problems. We also compared these groups on outcomes including length of stay, live release, and returns after adoption. We found that while the frequency of moves was similar in both groups, SH cats were more likely to be moved to offsite facilities than GH cats. SH cats also spent a smaller proportion of time on the adoption floor. Length of stay and, live release and returns after adoption did not significantly differ across groups, however GH cats were two times as likely to be returned after adoption. Future research should look at the behavioral impacts of shelter decision-making regarding moving and management of cats in different housing systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Excluding Food Guarding from a Standardized Behavioral Canine Assessment in Animal Shelters
Animals 2018, 8(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020027
Received: 23 November 2017 / Revised: 3 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (659 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Online Relinquishments of Dogs and Cats in Australia
Animals 2018, 8(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020025
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 2 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1574 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While traditionally people relinquish their pets to an animal shelter or pound, the internet provides a newer method to re-home. We analyzed advertisements (ads) on the largest website in Australia for trading dogs and cats: Gumtree. Data was collected in 2016. Dogs were [...] Read more.
While traditionally people relinquish their pets to an animal shelter or pound, the internet provides a newer method to re-home. We analyzed advertisements (ads) on the largest website in Australia for trading dogs and cats: Gumtree. Data was collected in 2016. Dogs were sampled on 7, 16 and 24 February 2016 and cats on 9, 19 and 26 February 2016, with 2640 ads for relinquished dogs, and 2093 ads for relinquished cats. It was estimated >31,000 puppies/dogs and >24,000 kittens/cats are relinquished on Gumtree per year. The median age of dogs was 1.42 and cats 0.9 years of age. There were 23% of dog ads and 62% of cat ads for free animals. Compared to the human population, there were proportionately more ads in Queensland and fewer ads in Victoria. A total of 15 people were surveyed who had relinquished a dog or cat using Gumtree. The dog owners used Gumtree for two reasons: because they believed the shelters were full (n = 4); and they wanted to see/interview the new owner (n = 2). For cat owners: they had originally got the cat on Gumtree (n = 2); they use Gumtree for other things, and it works (n = 2), and; they wanted to see/interview the new owner (n = 2). The data collected will be valuable for implementation of policy and interventions to protect the welfare of unwanted dogs and cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Surrenderers’ Relationships with Cats Admitted to Four Australian Animal Shelters
Animals 2018, 8(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020023
Received: 20 November 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (653 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The surrender of cats to animal shelters results in financial, social and moral burdens for the community. Correlations of caretaking and interactions with surrendered cats were calculated, to understand more about humans’ relationships with surrendered cats and the contribution of semi-owned cats to [...] Read more.
The surrender of cats to animal shelters results in financial, social and moral burdens for the community. Correlations of caretaking and interactions with surrendered cats were calculated, to understand more about humans’ relationships with surrendered cats and the contribution of semi-owned cats to shelter intakes. A questionnaire was used to collect detailed information about 100 surrenderers’ relationships with cats they surrendered to four animal shelters in Australia, with each surrenderer classifying themselves as being either the owner or a non-owner of the surrendered cat (ownership perception). Method of acquisition of the cat, association time, closeness of the relationship with the cat and degree of responsibility for the cat’s care were all associated with ownership perception. Many non-owners (59%) fed and interacted with the cat they surrendered but rarely displayed other caretaking behaviours. However, most surrenderers of owned and unowned cats were attached to and felt responsible for the cat. Based on these results and other evidence, a causal model of ownership perception was proposed to provide a better understanding of factors influencing ownership perception. This model consisted of a set of variables proposed as directly or indirectly influencing ownership perception, with connecting arrows to indicate proposed causal relationships. Understanding ownership perception and the contribution of semi-owned cats to shelter intake is important as these can inform the development of more targeted and effective intervention strategies to reduce numbers of unwanted cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Email Reminders Increase the Frequency That Pet Owners Update Their Microchip Information
Animals 2018, 8(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8020020
Received: 8 December 2017 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1772 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Stray animals with incorrect microchip details are less likely to be reclaimed, and unclaimed strays are at increased risk of euthanasia. A retrospective cohort study was performed using 394,747 cats and 904,909 dogs registered with Australia’s largest microchip database to describe animal characteristics, [...] Read more.
Stray animals with incorrect microchip details are less likely to be reclaimed, and unclaimed strays are at increased risk of euthanasia. A retrospective cohort study was performed using 394,747 cats and 904,909 dogs registered with Australia’s largest microchip database to describe animal characteristics, determine whether annual email reminders increased the frequency that owners updated their information, and to compare frequencies of microchip information updates according to pet and owner characteristics. More than twice as many dogs (70%) than cats (30%) were registered on the database; the most numerous pure-breeds were Ragdoll cats and Staffordshire Bull Terrier dogs, and the number of registered animals per capita varied by Australian state or territory. Owners were more likely (p < 0.001) to update their details soon after they were sent a reminder email, compared to immediately before that email, and there were significant (p < 0.001) differences in the frequency of owner updates by state or territory of residence, animal species, animal age, and socioeconomic index of the owner’s postcode. This research demonstrates that email reminders increase the probability of owners updating their details on the microchip database, and this could reduce the percentages of stray animals that are unclaimed and subsequently euthanized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
A Case Study in Citizen Science: The Effectiveness of a Trap-Neuter-Return Program in a Chicago Neighborhood
Animals 2018, 8(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8010014
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 4 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 18 January 2018
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (19044 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The use of trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a method of managing free-roaming cat populations has increased in the United States in recent decades. Historically, TNR has been conducted most often at a grassroots level, which has led to inconsistent data collection and assessment practices. [...] Read more.
The use of trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a method of managing free-roaming cat populations has increased in the United States in recent decades. Historically, TNR has been conducted most often at a grassroots level, which has led to inconsistent data collection and assessment practices. Consequently, a paucity of analyzable data exists. An initiative is underway to standardize TNR program data collection and assessment. However, it could be some time before scientifically sound protocols are implemented on a broad scale. In the interim, sets of data collected by nascent citizen scientists offer valid opportunities to evaluate grassroots TNR programs. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effectiveness of a TNR program conducted by a citizen scientist located in Chicago, Illinois, where a county law permitting TNR was enacted in 2007. Colony populations, when grouped by the number of years enrolled in the program, declined by a mean of 54% from entry and 82% from peak levels. Results from coexistent TNR programs in the Chicago area are consistent with these findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found
Animals 2018, 8(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8010005
Received: 19 November 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
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Abstract
Missing pet cats are often not found by their owners, with many being euthanized at shelters. This study aimed to describe times that lost cats were missing for, search methods associated with their recovery, locations where found and distances travelled. A retrospective case [...] Read more.
Missing pet cats are often not found by their owners, with many being euthanized at shelters. This study aimed to describe times that lost cats were missing for, search methods associated with their recovery, locations where found and distances travelled. A retrospective case series was conducted where self-selected participants whose cat had gone missing provided data in an online questionnaire. Of the 1210 study cats, only 61% were found within one year, with 34% recovered alive by the owner within 7 days. Few cats were found alive after 90 days. There was evidence that physical searching increased the chance of finding the cat alive (p = 0.073), and 75% of cats were found within 500 m of the point of escape. Up to 75% of cats with outdoor access traveled 1609 m, further than the distance traveled by indoor-only cats (137 m; p ≤ 0.001). Cats considered to be highly curious were more likely to be found inside someone else’s house compared to other personality types. These findings suggest that thorough physical searching is a useful strategy, and should be conducted within the first week after cats go missing. They also support further investigation into whether shelter, neuter and return programs improve the chance of owners recovering missing cats and decrease numbers of cats euthanized in shelters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Attitudes of Veterinary Teaching Staff and Exposure of Veterinary Students to Early-Age Desexing, with Review of Current Early-Age Desexing Literature
Animals 2018, 8(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8010003
Received: 21 October 2017 / Revised: 5 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 25 December 2017
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Abstract
Approximately 50% of cats admitted to Australian shelters are kittens, and 26% of dogs are puppies, and, particularly for cats, euthanasia rates are often high. Cats can be pregnant by 4 months of age, yet the traditional desexing age is 5–6 months, and [...] Read more.
Approximately 50% of cats admitted to Australian shelters are kittens, and 26% of dogs are puppies, and, particularly for cats, euthanasia rates are often high. Cats can be pregnant by 4 months of age, yet the traditional desexing age is 5–6 months, and studies in Australasia and Nth America reveal that only a minority of veterinarians routinely perform early age desexing (EAD) of cats or dogs, suggesting they are not graduating with these skills. This study aimed to describe the attitudes of veterinary teaching staff in Australian and New Zealand universities towards EAD, and to determine if these changed from 2008 to 2015. It also aimed to identify students’ practical exposure to EAD. Most (64%) of the 25 participants in 2015 did not advocate EAD in their teaching and, in their personal opinion, only 32% advocated it for cats. Concerns related to EAD cited by staff included anesthetic risk, orthopedic problems, hypoglycemia, and, in female dogs, urinary incontinence. Those who advocated EAD cited benefits of population control, ease of surgery and behavioral benefits. Only three of the eight universities provided a majority of students with an opportunity to gain exposure to EAD procedures before graduation, and in two of these, most students had an opportunity to perform EAD. In conclusion, most veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand are not graduating with the knowledge or skills to perform EAD, and have little opportunity while at university to gain practical exposure. Welfare agencies could partner with universities to enable students to experience EAD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Open AccessArticle
Using Free Adoptions to Reduce Crowding and Euthanasia at Cat Shelters: An Australian Case Study
Animals 2017, 7(12), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7120092
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 17 November 2017 / Accepted: 22 November 2017 / Published: 4 December 2017
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Abstract
Many healthy adult cats are euthanised annually in shelters, and novel approaches are required to reduce euthanasia rates. Waiving adoption fees is one such approach. However, concerns that less responsible owners will be attracted to free events persist among welfare groups. We evaluated [...] Read more.
Many healthy adult cats are euthanised annually in shelters, and novel approaches are required to reduce euthanasia rates. Waiving adoption fees is one such approach. However, concerns that less responsible owners will be attracted to free events persist among welfare groups. We evaluated evidence for differences in cat fate, health, and adherence to husbandry legislation via a case-study of a free adoption-drive for cats ≥1 year at a Western Australian shelter. Post-adoption outcomes were compared between free adopters and a control group of normal-fee adopters. The free adoption-drive rehomed 137 cats, increasing average weekly adoptions by 533%. First-time adopters were a significantly larger portion of the free cohort, as a result of mixed-media promotions. Both adopter groups selected cats of similar age; sex and pelage. Post-adoption, both groups retained >90% cats, reporting near identical incidences of medical and behavioural problems. Adopters did not differ in legislative compliance regarding fitting collars, registering cats, or allowing cats to roam. The shelter reported satisfaction with the adoption-drive, because in addition to relieving crowding of healthy adults, adoption of full-fee kittens increased 381%. Overall, we found no evidence for adverse outcomes associated with free adoptions. Shelters should not be dissuaded from occasional free adoption-drives during overflow periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
An Examination of an Iconic Trap-Neuter-Return Program: The Newburyport, Massachusetts Case Study
Animals 2017, 7(11), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7110081
Received: 14 October 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
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Abstract
The use of trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a humane alternative to the lethal management of free-roaming cats has been on the rise for several decades in the United States; however a relative paucity of data from TNR programs exists. An iconic community-wide TNR effort; [...] Read more.
The use of trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a humane alternative to the lethal management of free-roaming cats has been on the rise for several decades in the United States; however a relative paucity of data from TNR programs exists. An iconic community-wide TNR effort; initiated in 1992 and renowned for having eliminated hundreds of free-roaming cats from the Newburyport; Massachusetts waterfront; is cited repeatedly; yet few details appear in the literature. Although the presence of feline population data was quite limited; a detailed narrative emerged from an examination of contemporaneous reports; extant TNR program documents; and stakeholder testimony. Available evidence indicates that an estimated 300 free-roaming cats were essentially unmanaged prior to the commencement of the TNR program; a quick reduction of up to one-third of the cats on the waterfront was attributed to the adoption of sociable cats and kittens; the elimination of the remaining population; over a 17-year period; was ascribed to attrition. These findings illuminate the potential effectiveness of TNR as a management practice; as well as call attention to the need for broad adoption of systematic data collection and assessment protocols. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Clicker Training for Shelter Cats
Animals 2017, 7(10), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7100073
Received: 22 July 2017 / Revised: 28 August 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
Clicker training has the potential to mitigate stress among shelter cats by providing environmental enrichment and human interaction. This study assessed the ability of cats housed in a shelter-like setting to learn new behaviors via clicker training in a limited amount of time. [...] Read more.
Clicker training has the potential to mitigate stress among shelter cats by providing environmental enrichment and human interaction. This study assessed the ability of cats housed in a shelter-like setting to learn new behaviors via clicker training in a limited amount of time. One hundred shelter cats were enrolled in the study. Their baseline ability to perform four specific behaviors touching a target, sitting, spinning, and giving a high-five was assessed, before exposing them to 15, five-min clicker training sessions, followed by a post-training assessment. Significant gains in performance scores were found for all four cued behaviors after training (p = 0.001). A cat’s age and sex did not have any effect on successful learning, but increased food motivation was correlated with greater gains in learning for two of the cued behaviors: high-five and targeting. Temperament also correlated with learning, as bolder cats at post assessment demonstrated greater gains in performance scores than shyer ones. Over the course of this study, 79% of cats mastered the ability to touch a target, 27% mastered sitting, 60% mastered spinning, and 31% mastered high-fiving. Aside from the ability to influence the cats’ well-being, clicker training also has the potential to make cats more desirable to adopters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Open AccessArticle
Characteristics and Outcomes of Dogs Admitted into Queensland RSPCA Shelters
Animals 2017, 7(9), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7090067
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 25 August 2017 / Published: 1 September 2017
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Abstract
Over 200,000 stray and surrendered dogs are admitted to shelters and municipal facilities in Australia each year, and approximately 20% are euthanized. Contemporary, comprehensive data on the characteristics and outcomes of dogs entering shelters are required to reduce shelter admissions and euthanasia. However, [...] Read more.
Over 200,000 stray and surrendered dogs are admitted to shelters and municipal facilities in Australia each year, and approximately 20% are euthanized. Contemporary, comprehensive data on the characteristics and outcomes of dogs entering shelters are required to reduce shelter admissions and euthanasia. However, there are currently limited up-to-date data published on dog admission into shelters. A retrospective single cohort study was conducted to describe the characteristics and outcomes of the dog population entering Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Queensland (RSPCA-QLD) shelters in 2014 (n = 11,967). The majority of dog admissions were strays from the public (24%) or from municipal councils (34%). Just over a quarter of admissions were puppies, 18% of adults (>6 months) were desexed, and the majority of admissions were crossbred dogs (92%). The majority of owner surrenders (86%) were due to human-related reasons. Most dogs were reclaimed (32%) or adopted (43%) and aggression was the most common reason for euthanasia of adult dogs (45%). Low-cost or free desexing and identification programs targeted to areas and breeds contributing to high intake, and increased support services for owners at risk of surrendering their dog, should be trialed to determine their cost effectiveness in reducing shelter admissions and euthanasia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Stated Preferences for Dog Characteristics and Sources of Acquisition
Animals 2017, 7(8), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7080059
Received: 20 June 2017 / Revised: 22 July 2017 / Accepted: 3 August 2017 / Published: 5 August 2017
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Abstract
People’s preferences for where they acquire dogs and the characteristics they focus on may provide insight into their perceptions of socially responsible pet ownership, as acquiring a dog is the first step in dog ownership. An online survey of 1523 U.S. residents was [...] Read more.
People’s preferences for where they acquire dogs and the characteristics they focus on may provide insight into their perceptions of socially responsible pet ownership, as acquiring a dog is the first step in dog ownership. An online survey of 1523 U.S. residents was used to aid understanding of public perceptions of dog acquisition. Likert-scale questions allowed respondents to assign a level of agreement, within the given scale, to ten statements related to dog acquisition. A significantly higher percentage of women (39.6%) than men (31.7%) agreed that the only responsible way to acquire a dog is through a shelter/rescue. More women (71.3%) than men (66.4%), as well as those with a higher household income (71%), identified source as important. Best-worst methodology was used to elicit perceptions regarding the most/least ethical ways to acquire a dog. Three subgroups were identified, one of which had an overwhelmingly large preference share (96%) for adoption. The second group had more evenly distributed preference shares amongst the various dog acquisition methods, while the third indicated a preference for “homeless” pets. Additional investigation of the values/beliefs underlying the preferences of these groups is necessary to design appropriately tailored companion animal-focused communication strategies for these different groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Surrendered and Stray Dogs in Australia—Estimation of Numbers Entering Municipal Pounds, Shelters and Rescue Groups and Their Outcomes
Animals 2017, 7(7), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7070050
Received: 19 April 2017 / Revised: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 5 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
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Abstract
There is no national system for monitoring numbers of dogs entering municipal council pounds and shelters in Australia, or their outcomes. This limits understanding of the surrendered and stray dog issue, and prevents the evaluation of management strategies. We aimed to estimate these [...] Read more.
There is no national system for monitoring numbers of dogs entering municipal council pounds and shelters in Australia, or their outcomes. This limits understanding of the surrendered and stray dog issue, and prevents the evaluation of management strategies. We aimed to estimate these in 2012–2013. Dog intake and outcome data were collected for municipal councils and animal welfare organizations using annual reports, publications, primary peer-reviewed journal articles, websites and direct correspondence. More comprehensive data were obtained for New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory, whereas it was necessary to impute some or all data for Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania, as data were incomplete/unavailable. A refined methodology was developed to address the numerous limitations of the available data. An estimated national total of 211,655 dog admissions (9.3 admissions/1000 residents) occurred in 2012–2013. Of these admissions, the numbers where the dog was reclaimed, rehomed or euthanized were estimated as 4.4, 2.9 and 1.9/1000 residents, respectively. Differences in outcomes were evident between states, and between municipal councils, welfare organizations and rescue groups. This study emphasizes the need for an ongoing standardized monitoring system with appropriate data routinely collected from all municipal councils, animal welfare organizations and rescue groups in Australia. Such a system would only require data that are easily collected by all relevant organizations and could be implemented at relatively low cost. This could facilitate ongoing evaluation of the magnitude of the surrendered and stray dog problem, and allow assessment of strategies aiming to reduce numbers of admissions and euthanasia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Open AccessArticle
Trap-Neuter-Return Activities in Urban Stray Cat Colonies in Australia
Animals 2017, 7(6), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7060046
Received: 14 April 2017 / Revised: 21 May 2017 / Accepted: 23 May 2017 / Published: 2 June 2017
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Abstract
Trap, neuter and return (TNR) describes a non-lethal approach to the control of urban stray cat populations. Currently, in Australia, lethal control is common, with over 85% of cats entering some municipal pounds euthanized. No research has been published describing TNR activities in [...] Read more.
Trap, neuter and return (TNR) describes a non-lethal approach to the control of urban stray cat populations. Currently, in Australia, lethal control is common, with over 85% of cats entering some municipal pounds euthanized. No research has been published describing TNR activities in Australia. Adults involved with TNR in Australia were invited to participate. Data from 53 respondents were collected via an anonymous online questionnaire. Most respondents were females 36 to 65 years of age, and slightly more participated in TNR as individuals than as part of an organization. Respondents generally self-funded at least some of their TNR activities. The median number of colonies per respondent was 1.5 (range 1 to over 100). Median colony size declined from 11.5 to 6.5 cats under TNR over a median of 2.2 years, and the median percent reduction was 31%; this was achieved by rehoming cats and kittens and reducing reproduction. A median of 69% of cats in each colony were desexed at the time of reporting. Most respondents fed cats once or twice daily, and at least 28% of respondents microchipped cats. Prophylactic healthcare was provided to adult cats and kittens, commonly for intestinal parasites (at least 49%), and fleas (at least 46%); vaccinations were less common. Time-consuming activities for respondents were feeding (median 4 h/week) and locating resources (median 1.1 h/week). These findings indicate that TNR, when involving high desexing rates within colonies, adoption of kittens and friendly adults, and ongoing oversight by volunteer caretakers, can reduce cat numbers over time, improve health and welfare of cats and kittens, and is largely funded by private individuals and organizations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Gastrointestinal Parasites in Shelter Dogs: Occurrence, Pathology, Treatment and Risk to Shelter Workers
Animals 2018, 8(7), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8070108
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 27 June 2018 / Accepted: 28 June 2018 / Published: 2 July 2018
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Abstract
Dogs entering shelters can carry gastrointestinal parasites that may pose serious risks to other animals, shelter staff and visitors. Shelters provide an environment that could facilitate the spread of parasitic infections between animals. Nematodes and protozoa that transmit through ingestion or skin penetration [...] Read more.
Dogs entering shelters can carry gastrointestinal parasites that may pose serious risks to other animals, shelter staff and visitors. Shelters provide an environment that could facilitate the spread of parasitic infections between animals. Nematodes and protozoa that transmit through ingestion or skin penetration are major enteric parasites of concern in shelter settings. Ancylostoma spp., Uncinaria stenocephala, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Trichuris vulpis and Dipylidium caninum are the major helminths while Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Isospora spp. and Sarcocystis spp. are the most prevalent protozoan parasites in shelter dogs. The prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in shelter dogs is typically higher than in owned dogs. A range of cost-effective drugs is available for prevention and control of helminths in shelters, notably fenbendazole, pyrantel, oxantel, and praziquantel. Parasiticide options for protozoan parasites are often cost-prohibitive or limited by a lack of veterinary registration for use in dogs. Environmental control measures reliant upon hygiene and facility management are therefore a mainstay for control and prevention of protozoan parasites in shelters. This philosophy should also extend to helminth control, as integrated parasite control strategies can allow anthelmintics to be used more sparingly and judiciously. The purpose of this article is to comprehensively review the current knowledge on the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites most commonly found in dogs in shelters, canvass recommended treatment programs in shelter dogs, and to explore the likelihood that parasiticide resistance might emerge in a shelter environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
Open AccessReview
Dog Population & Dog Sheltering Trends in the United States of America
Animals 2018, 8(5), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8050068
Received: 2 November 2017 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 28 April 2018
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Abstract
Dog management in the United States has evolved considerably over the last 40 years. This review analyzes available data from the last 30 to 40 years to identify national and local trends. In 1973, The Humane Society of the US (The HSUS) estimated [...] Read more.
Dog management in the United States has evolved considerably over the last 40 years. This review analyzes available data from the last 30 to 40 years to identify national and local trends. In 1973, The Humane Society of the US (The HSUS) estimated that about 13.5 million animals (64 dogs and cats per 1000 people) were euthanized in the US (about 20% of the pet population) and about 25% of the dog population was still roaming the streets. Intake and euthanasia numbers (national and state level) declined rapidly in the 1970s due to a number of factors, including the implementation of shelter sterilization policies, changes in sterilization practices by private veterinarians and the passage of local ordinances implementing differential licensing fees for intact and sterilized pets. By the mid-1980s, shelter intake had declined by about 50% (The HSUS estimated 7.6–10 million animals euthanized in 1985). Data collected by PetPoint over the past eight years indicate that adoptions increased in the last decade and may have become an additional driver affecting recent euthanasia declines across the US. We suspect that sterilizations, now part of the standard veterinary care, and the level of control of pet dogs exercised by pet owners (roaming dogs are now mostly absent in many US communities) played an important part in the cultural shift in the US, in which a larger proportion of families now regard their pet dogs as “family members”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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