Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dog Owners Hide the Truth from Shelters About Their Pets’ Behavioral Problems

31.01.2006


Many dog owners who relinquish their pets to animal shelters are not entirely honest about their dogs’ behavioral problems probably for fear that their pets will be put to sleep, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania and University of California veterinary schools. According to the researchers, these behavioral problems may sometimes pose a risk to an adopting family who could unknowingly take in an aggressive animal.



The researchers studied behavioral questionnaires given to owners leaving their dogs at shelters and found that people are less likely to report such behavioral problems as aggression and fear of strangers, if they believed that their responses would be shared with shelter staff. Their findings were published recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"Many shelters conduct behavior-based evaluations on animals they take in, but there are few better descriptions of a dog’s temperament than an honest assessment from its owner through a questionnaire," said James Serpell, a professor in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and director of Penn’s Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society. "Shelters are not in the business of giving up on the animals they receive, and they need the best information the owner can provide to keep both the animals and potential adopters safe."


According to the researchers, questionnaires are often effective at revealing certain health and behavioral problems among animals being left at a shelter. While questionnaires can be useful, however, shelters need to be aware that these responses are not always straightforward.

"These owners might think they are bettering their petschances by concealing behavior problems, but what they don realize is that they are really worsening things for both their pets and the shelter,Serpell said. "Shelters could more effectively use their scarce resources to correct behavioral problems or find ways of guiding troubled dogs to more appropriate adopters if they detect these problems in time."

Serpell conducted the study with UC Davis colleagues Sheila Sergurson and Benjamin Hart at two shelters in Sacramento. They gave questionnaires to two groups of people. One group was told that the information would be kept confidential and the other was told that the information would be shared with shelter staff. Significantly more shelter dogs in the confidential group were reported to behave aggressively to their owners or fearfully with strangers.

The researchers also compared both groups to questionnaires given to a group of dog-owners, all of whom were clients of Penn’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia. The comparison showed that there were many more instances of behavioral problems in animals being left at shelters. While Serpell and his colleagues realize that there are inherent differences between dog owners and people who give their dogs to shelters, they believe it highlights the importance of behavior when people make the decision to disown a pet.

"It appears that serious behavior problems are often the biggest reason people seek to relinquish their animals," Serpell said. "It demonstrates the importance of regular veterinary care and the need for veterinarians to provide preventative behavioral health care."

For animal shelters, however, the lesson that this study provides is more complex. Shelter workers and volunteers cannot lie to people and tell them that responses are confidential when they are not. Yet shelters must identify potentially troubled dogs before making them available for adoption. Even family-friendly breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, could be dangerously aggressive.

"Questionnaires certainly provide a useful starting point when assessing an animal’s behavioral health," Serpell said, "but they should also be taken with a grain of salt."

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>