Some factors influencing adoption of sheltered dogs

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In Italy the law forbids euthanizing shelter dogs unless they are severely ill or dangerous. This has created a problem: many dogs are housed for long periods of time in shelters. It is important to the welfare of these dogs for us to find methods to increase successful adoption rates. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of different management factors such as the number of dogs in a pen, Temporary Adoption Programs (TAPs), and animal-owner-related characteristics on successful adoptions of kenneled dogs. The study included 763 dogs, 92 of whom were dogs showing behavioral problems. The age of the dogs upon arrival at the shelter was the most important determinant for length of stay, with younger dogs being adopted faster (Kruskal-Wallis, H = 150.27; df = 3; n = 733; p < 0.001). Dogs up to six months of age (n = 73) were adopted more quickly than older dogs (average length of stay: 1.4 vs. 6.4 months). The year of admittance was also significant since dogs who were admitted in a year in which more dogs were brought to the shelter spent more time in the shelter before being re-homed (Kruskal-Wallis, H = 96.18; df = 2; n = 733; p < 0.001). Dogs' gender had no effect on length of stay (Mann-Whitney, U = 64563; Z = 0.81; p = ns; n1 = 389; n2 = 344). Temporary Adoption Programs had a significant positive effect in reducing the return rate when the final adopter was the same person who had “temporarily” adopted the dog (Fisher exact test, p = 0.0063). Return rate was also associated with behavioral problems. Fearful dogs were returned more often than dogs with other problems (Fisher exact test, p = 0.029). It is concluded that, although young age is the most important factor leading to quick adoption, programs which include increased human interaction, and special training for dogs with behavioral problems, could aid in the successful re-homing of shelter dogs.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2006

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