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 dogs temperament than an honest assessment from its owner through a questionnaire," said James Serpell, a professor in Penns School of Veterinary Medicine and director of Penns 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."
Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
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