Special Issue "Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Pauleen Bennett
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC 3552, Australia
Interests: human-companion animal relationships; anthrozoology; shelter practices; dog behaviour

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent decades have seen a transformation in attempts by many groups to provide shelter for companion animals. Gone are the days when it was deemed satisfactory to house unwanted animals indefinitely in dark, dirty sheds, often co-located with the community garbage dump. Gone also is the community’s ready acceptance of the ‘need’ to humanely destroy thousands of animals — because there was perceived to be no other option to ensure their welfare.

While too many animals still die unnecessarily or suffer from compromised welfare, what has emerged in place of these practices is a diverse community of shelters and adoption networks, loosely linked by the desire to assist animals abandoned, lost or dispossessed through no fault of their own. In order to develop a shared understanding of optimal shelter practices, the need for such groups to share information is pressing, as is the need to scientifically investigate and report welfare outcomes associated with different management strategies. Original manuscripts that address these issues are invited for this special issue.

Assoc. Prof. Pauleen Bennett
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 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 management
  • shelter medicine
  • adoption outcomes
  • rehabilitation strategies
  • staff well-being

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
Numbers and Characteristics of Cats Admitted to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Shelters in Australia and Reasons for Surrender
Animals 2016, 6(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030023 - 16 Mar 2016
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3777
Abstract
Despite high numbers of cats admitted to animal shelters annually, there is surprisingly little information available about the characteristics of these cats. In this study, we examined 195,387 admissions to 33 Australian RSPCA shelters and six friends of the RSPCA groups from July [...] Read more.
Despite high numbers of cats admitted to animal shelters annually, there is surprisingly little information available about the characteristics of these cats. In this study, we examined 195,387 admissions to 33 Australian RSPCA shelters and six friends of the RSPCA groups from July 2006 to June 2010. The aims of this study were to describe the numbers and characteristics of cats entering Australian RSPCA shelters, and to describe reasons for cat surrender. Data collected included shelter, state, admission source, age, gender, date of arrival, color, breed, reproductive status (sterilized or not prior to admission), feral status and surrender reason (if applicable). Most admissions were presented by members of the general public, as either stray animals or owner-surrenders, and more kittens were admitted than adults. Owner-related reasons were most commonly given for surrendering a cat to a shelter. The most frequently cited owner-related reason was accommodation (i.e., cats were not allowed). Importantly, although the percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized (36%) was the highest of any shelter study reported to date, this was still lower than expected, particularly among owner-surrendered cats (47%). The percentage of admissions where the cat was previously sterilized was low even in jurisdictions that require mandatory sterilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
Characteristics of Excitable Dog Behavior Based on Owners’ Report from a Self-Selected Study
Animals 2016, 6(3), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani6030022 - 15 Mar 2016
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4111
Abstract
Past research has found that excitable dog behavior is prevalent among sheltered and owned dogs and many times is a reason for canine relinquishment. In spite of its prevalence in the canine population, excitable behavior is relatively unstudied in the scientific literature. The [...] Read more.
Past research has found that excitable dog behavior is prevalent among sheltered and owned dogs and many times is a reason for canine relinquishment. In spite of its prevalence in the canine population, excitable behavior is relatively unstudied in the scientific literature. The intent of this research was to understand the experience of owners of excitable dogs through the analysis of self-administered online questionnaires completed by owners as part of another study. We found that certain daily scenarios tended to prompt excitable behavior, with excitability most common when the owner or other people came to the dog’s home. All owners experienced some level of frustration with their dog’s excitable behavior, with the majority being very frustrated. Many dogs in the sample had other behavior problems, with disobedient, destructive, chasing and barking behaviors being the most commonly reported. Other characteristics of excitable dogs also are discussed. Although the ability to generalize from these results is likely limited, due to targeted recruitment and selection of owners of more excitable dogs, this research provides valuable insights into the owner’s experience of excitable behavior. We hope this study prompts more research into canine excitable behavior which would expand our understanding of this behavior and help behaviorists, veterinarians, and shelters develop tools for managing it, as well as provide better education to owners of excitable dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
Article
RandAgiamo™, a Pilot Project Increasing Adoptability of Shelter Dogs in the Umbria Region (Italy)
Animals 2015, 5(3), 774-792; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5030383 - 14 Aug 2015
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3291
Abstract
Current Italian legislation does not permit euthanasia of dogs, unless they are ill or dangerous. Despite good intentions and ethical benefits, this ‘no-kill policy’ has caused a progressive overpopulation of dogs in shelters, due to abandonment rates being higher than adoption rates. Shelter [...] Read more.
Current Italian legislation does not permit euthanasia of dogs, unless they are ill or dangerous. Despite good intentions and ethical benefits, this ‘no-kill policy’ has caused a progressive overpopulation of dogs in shelters, due to abandonment rates being higher than adoption rates. Shelter overcrowding has negative implications for dog welfare and increases public costs. The aim of this paper is to describe the pilot project “RandAgiamo” implemented in a rescue shelter in the Umbria Region and to evaluate its effectiveness on the rate of dog adoption using official data. RandAgiamo aimed to increase adult shelter dogs’ adoptability by a standard training and socialization programme. It also promoted dogs’ visibility by publicizing them through social media and participation in events. We analysed the official data of the Umbria regional health authorities regarding dog shelters of the Perugia province of the year 2014. In the RandAgiamo shelter, the dog adoption rate was 27.5% higher than that of dogs housed in other shelters located in the same geographical area (P < 0.001). The RandAgiamo project could be beneficial for the dogs’ welfare, owner satisfaction, shelter management, and public perception of shelter dogs. However, staff were required to provide dog training and related activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
Epidemiology of Dog and Cat Abandonment in Spain (2008–2013)
Animals 2015, 5(2), 426-441; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020364 - 12 Jun 2015
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4525
Abstract
Millions of pets are abandoned worldwide every year, which is an important animal welfare and financial problem. This paper was divided into three studies. Our first two studies were designed as a national survey of animal shelters to profile the population of stray [...] Read more.
Millions of pets are abandoned worldwide every year, which is an important animal welfare and financial problem. This paper was divided into three studies. Our first two studies were designed as a national survey of animal shelters to profile the population of stray dogs and cats, as well as to gather information on both relinquishment and adoption. The aim of our third study was to test the impact of identification on the recovery of dogs entering animal shelters. Studies one and two indicate that more than 100,000 dogs and more than 30,000 cats enter animal shelters annually in Spain. We observed a seasonal effect in the number of admissions in cats. Two-thirds of dogs and cats entering shelters were found as strays, while the rest were relinquished directly to the shelter. Most pets admitted to animal shelters were adult, non-purebred, and without a microchip, with the majority of dogs being medium sized. Adult dogs spent significantly more time in shelters than puppies. While most animals were either adopted or recovered by their owner, a considerable percentage remained at the shelter or was euthanized. The identification of dogs with a microchip increased by 3-fold the likelihood of them being returned to the owner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
Problems Associated with the Microchip Data of Stray Dogs and Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters
Animals 2015, 5(2), 332-348; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020332 - 13 May 2015
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5237
Abstract
A lack of published information documenting problems with the microchip data for the reclaiming of stray animals entering Australian shelters limits improvement of the current microchipping system. A retrospective study analysing admission data for stray, adult dogs (n = 7258) and cats [...] Read more.
A lack of published information documenting problems with the microchip data for the reclaiming of stray animals entering Australian shelters limits improvement of the current microchipping system. A retrospective study analysing admission data for stray, adult dogs (n = 7258) and cats (n = 6950) entering the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland between January 2012 and December 2013 was undertaken to determine the character and frequency of microchip data problems and their impact on outcome for the animal. Only 28% of dogs and 9% of cats were microchipped, and a substantial proportion (37%) had problems with their data, including being registered to a previous owner or organisation (47%), all phone numbers incorrect/disconnected (29%), and the microchip not registered (14%). A higher proportion of owners could be contacted when the microchip had no problems, compared to those with problems (dogs, 93% vs. 70%; cats, 75% vs. 41%). The proportion of animals reclaimed declined significantly between microchipped animals with no data problems, microchipped animals with data problems and non-microchipped animals—87%, 69%, and 37%, respectively, for dogs and 61%, 33%, and 5%, respectively, for cats. Strategies are needed to increase the accuracy of microchip data to facilitate the reclaiming of stray dogs and cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
Article
Determinants of Cat Choice and Outcomes for Adult Cats and Kittens Adopted from an Australian Animal Shelter
Animals 2015, 5(2), 276-314; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020276 - 29 Apr 2015
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 4271
Abstract
The percentage of adult cats euthanized in animal shelters is greater than that of kittens because adult cats are less likely to be adopted. This study aimed to provide evidence to inform the design of strategies to encourage adult cat adoptions. One such [...] Read more.
The percentage of adult cats euthanized in animal shelters is greater than that of kittens because adult cats are less likely to be adopted. This study aimed to provide evidence to inform the design of strategies to encourage adult cat adoptions. One such strategy is to discount adoption prices, but there are concerns that this may result in poor adoption outcomes. We surveyed 382 cat adopters at the time of adoption, to assess potential determinants of adopters’ cat age group choice (adult or kitten) and, for adult cat adopters, the price they are willing to pay. The same respondents were surveyed again 6–12 months after the adoption to compare outcomes between cat age groups and between adult cats in two price categories. Most adopters had benevolent motivations for adopting from the shelter and had put considerable thought into the adoption and requirements for responsible ownership. However, adult cat adopters were more likely to have been influenced by price than kitten adopters. Adoption outcomes were generally positive for both adult cats and kittens and for adult cats adopted at low prices. The latter finding alleviates concerns about the outcomes of “low-cost” adoptions in populations, such as the study population, and lends support for the use of “low-cost” adoptions as an option for attempting to increase adoption rates. In addition, the results provide information that can be used to inform future campaigns aimed at increasing the number of adult cat adoptions, particularly in devising marketing strategies for adult cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine Shelter Program
Animals 2015, 5(2), 259-269; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020259 - 24 Apr 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3691
Abstract
The shelter program at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine provides veterinary students with extensive experience in shelter animal care including spay/neuter, basic wellness care, diagnostics, medical management, disease control, shelter management and biosecurity. Students spend five days at shelters in [...] Read more.
The shelter program at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine provides veterinary students with extensive experience in shelter animal care including spay/neuter, basic wellness care, diagnostics, medical management, disease control, shelter management and biosecurity. Students spend five days at shelters in the junior year of the curriculum and two weeks working on mobile veterinary units in their senior year. The program helps meet accreditation standards of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education that require students to have hands-on experience and is in keeping with recommendations from the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium. The program responds, in part, to the challenge from the Pew Study on Future Directions for Veterinary Medicine that argued that veterinary students do not graduate with the level of knowledge and skills that is commensurate with the number of years of professional education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
The Use of Refuges by Communally Housed Cats
Animals 2015, 5(2), 245-258; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020245 - 24 Apr 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2665
Abstract
The increase of domestic animals kept in shelters highlights the need to ensure animal welfare. Environmental enrichment can improve animal welfare in many ways, such as encouraging captive animals to use all the space available to them. The effects of physical environmental enrichment [...] Read more.
The increase of domestic animals kept in shelters highlights the need to ensure animal welfare. Environmental enrichment can improve animal welfare in many ways, such as encouraging captive animals to use all the space available to them. The effects of physical environmental enrichment on the spatial distribution and behavioral repertoire of 35 neutered domestic cats housed communally were analyzed. The provision of boxes in the environment increases the use of available space by the cats. We suggest this improves the cats’ welfare while in communally-housed rescue shelters. The frequencies of active and especially inactive behaviors also increased in the enriched condition. In a test with vertical environmental enrichment, the animals showed an increased length of stay in refuges located at a height of 0.5 m compared to those on the ground (0.0 m). However, the entry frequency was higher in refuges at 0.0 m. Both horizontal and vertical environmental enrichment increased the use of available space, demonstrating that box refuges as enrichment are effective in providing a refuge when at a height, or a place to explore at ground level. We suggest it enhances the welfare of cats in communally housed shelters. This information adds to the body of evidence relating to cat enrichment and can be useful in designing cat housing in veterinary clinics, research laboratories, shelters and domestic homes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
The Use of a Shelter Software a to Track Frequency and Selected Risk Factors for Feline Upper Respiratory Infection
Animals 2015, 5(2), 161-172; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5020161 - 25 Mar 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2881
Abstract
Objective—Feline upper respiratory infection (URI) is a common, multi-factorial infectious disease syndrome endemic to many animal shelters. Although a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in shelter cats, URI is seldom formally monitored in shelter cat populations. Without monitoring, effective control and prevention [...] Read more.
Objective—Feline upper respiratory infection (URI) is a common, multi-factorial infectious disease syndrome endemic to many animal shelters. Although a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in shelter cats, URI is seldom formally monitored in shelter cat populations. Without monitoring, effective control and prevention of this often endemic disease is difficult. We looked at an integrated case management software system a for animal care organizations, widely used in shelters across the United States. Shelter staff routinely enter information regarding individual animals and disease status, but do not commonly use the software system to track frequency of disease. The purpose of this study was to determine if the software system a can be used to track URI frequency and selected risk factors in a population, and to evaluate the quality and completeness of the data as currently collected in a shelter. Design (type of study)—Descriptive Survey. Animals (or Sample)—317 cats in an animal shelter. Procedures—Reports from the software system a containing data regarding daily inventory, daily intake, animal identification, location, age, vaccination status, URI diagnosis and URI duration were evaluated. The reports were compared to data collected manually by an observer (Ann Therese Kommedal) to assess discrepancies, completeness, timeliness, availability and accuracy. Data were collected 6 days a week over a 4 week period. Results—Comparisons between the software system a reports and manually collected reports showed that 93% of inventory reports were complete and of these 99% were accurate. Fifty-two percent of the vaccination reports were complete, of which 97% were accurate. The accuracy of the software system’s age reports was 76%. Two-hundred and twenty-three cats were assigned a positive or negative URI diagnosis by the observer. The predictive value of the URI status in the software system a was below 60% both for positive and negative URI diagnosis. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—data currently collected and entered into the software systems in the study shelter, was not useful for tracking URI frequency and risk factors, due to issues with both data quality and capture. However, the potential exists to increase the practicality and usefulness of this shelter software system to monitor URI and other diseases. Relevant data points, i.e., health status at intake and outcome, vaccination date and status, as well as age, should be made mandatory to facilitate more useful data collection and reporting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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Article
Modification of the Feline-Ality™ Assessment and the Ability to Predict Adopted Cats’ Behaviors in Their New Homes
Animals 2015, 5(1), 71-88; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5010071 - 05 Feb 2015
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 8208
Abstract
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. [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Welfare of Shelter Animals)
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