What's in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions & Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions & Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs.
ABSTRACT: Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others. However, exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon information supplied by the relinquishing owner, or staff determination based on the dog's phenotype. However, discrepancies have been found between breed identification as typically assessed by welfare agencies and the outcome of DNA analysis. In Study 1, the perceived behavioral and adoptability characteristics of a pit-bull-type dog were compared with those of a Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. How the addition of a human handler influenced those perceptions was also assessed. In Study 2, lengths of stay and perceived attractiveness of dogs that were labeled as pit bull breeds were compared to dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed at an animal shelter. The latter dogs were called "lookalikes." In Study 3, we compared perceived attractiveness in video recordings of pit-bull-type dogs and lookalikes with and without breed labels. Lastly, data from an animal shelter that ceased applying breed labeling on kennels were analyzed, and lengths of stay and outcomes for all dog breeds, including pit bulls, before and after the change in labeling practice were compared. In total, these findings suggest that breed labeling influences potential adopters' perceptions and decision-making. Given the inherent complexity of breed assignment based on morphology coupled with negative breed perceptions, removing breed labels is a relatively low-cost strategy that will likely improve outcomes for dogs in animal shelters.
Project description:Previous research in animal shelters has determined the breeds of dogs living in shelters by their visual appearance; however the genetic breed testing of such dogs is seldom conducted, and few studies have compared the breed labels assigned by shelter staff to the results of this testing. In the largest sampling of shelter dogs' breed identities to-date, 459 dogs at Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL) in Phoenix, Arizona, and 460 dogs at San Diego Humane Society & SPCA (SDHS) in San Diego, California, were genetically tested using a commercially available product to determine their breed heritage. In our sample, genetic analyses identified 125 distinct breeds with 91 breeds present at both shelters, and 4.9% of the dogs identified as purebreds. The three most common breed signatures, in order of prevalence, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, and Poodle, accounted for 42.5% or all breed identifications at the great grandparent level. During their stay at the shelter, dogs with pit bull-type ancestries waited longer to be adopted than other dogs. When we compared shelter breed assignment as determined by visual appearance to that of genetic testing, staff at SDHS was able to successfully match at least one breed in the genetic heritage of 67.7% of dogs tested; however their agreement fell to 10.4% when asked to identify more than one breed. Lastly, we found that as the number of pit bull-type relatives in a dog's heritage increased, so did the shelter's ability to match the results of DNA analysis. In total when we consider the complexity of shelter dog breed heritage and the failure to identify multiple breeds based on visual identification coupled with our inability to predict how these breeds then interact within an individual dog, we believe that focusing resources on communicating the physical and behavioral characteristics of shelter dogs would best support adoption efforts.
Project description:Dog attacks on children are a widespread problem, which can occur when parents fail to realise a potentially dangerous interaction between a dog and a child. The aim of the study was to evaluate the ability of parents to identify dangerous situations from several everyday child-dog interactions and to determine whether the participants connected these situations to a particular breed of dog. Five sets of photographs depicting potentially dangerous interactions from everyday situations between children and three dogs (one of each breed) were presented via an online survey to parents of children no more than 6 years old. Data from 207 respondents were analysed using proc GLIMMIX in SAS program, version 9.3. The probability of risk assessment varied according to dog breed (<i>p</i> < 0.001) as well as to the depicted situation (<i>p</i> < 0.001). Results indicated that Labrador Retriever was considered the least likely of the three dogs to be involved in a dangerous dog-child interaction (with 49% predicting a dangerous interaction), followed by Parson Russell Terrier (63.2%) and American Pit Bull Terrier (65%). Participants considered one particular dog-child interaction named 'touching a bowl' a dangerous interaction at a high rate (77.9%) when compared with the other presented situations, which were assessed as dangerous at rates of 48.4% to 56.5%. The breed of dog seems to be an influential factor when assessing a potentially dangerous outcome from a dog-child interaction. Contrary to our hypothesis, interactions involving the small dog (Russell Terrier) were rated more critically, similarly to those of the Pit Bull Terrier. These results suggest that even popular family dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, should be treated with more caution.
Project description:BACKGROUND: There are no peer reviewed data on dog control records from an official agency in Ireland. In order to address this, a total of 2,669 official dog control service records generated during 2007 by Cork County Council dog control service were reviewed. RESULTS: Over 70 percent of records related to unwanted dogs and dogs not under their owners control. Stray dogs were collected by the service regularly throughout the year but with notable increase in voluntary surrenders by owners from January through to April. The majority of dogs collected or surrendered were male (2:1 ratio), of medium size, described as having a friendly temperament and were not wearing a neck collar. The Crossbreed and Greyhound breeds were more frequently collected as strays, while Greyhounds and German Shepherds were more frequently voluntarily surrendered by their owner. Restricted breeds such as Pit Bull terriers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers were more frequently reported by members of the public for aggressive behaviour while the only restricted breed reported for biting or snapping was the German Shepherd. CONCLUSIONS: Routine recording of dog control services in County Cork provide data on responsible dog ownership including the licensing of breeds, and surrender of owned dogs and the collection of stray dogs. Data capture and utilisation of dog control services by local authorities has potential to inform policy on responsible dog ownership and education programmes.
Project description:A common barrier to entry for New York City (NYC) dog adopters trying to rent apartments is the breed label the animal shelter assigned to their dog, despite the fact the labelling is primarily based on intuition and appearance. Bideawee, a limited admission shelter with three locations in the greater New York area, including one in NYC, phased out breed labels from their adoption cards in December 2017. In this study, we evaluated the generalizability of previous findings, specifically, that the removal of breed labels from adoption cards affected length of stay. Moreover, due to Bideawee's multi-location structure, this study provided a unique opportunity to compare variables across different shelter sites while having shelter administration practices held constant. Data from 16-month time periods before and after breed labels were removed was compared. The median length of stay of a dog at Bideawee decreased by 11.3 days (-37.3%) once breed labels were removed (Mdn = 19.0) compared to when breed labels were in place (Mdn = 30.3). A Mann Whitney test indicated that this difference was statistically significant (U(Nno breed labels = 1259, Nbreed labels = 987) = 386309.5, z = -15.41, p < .001). Dogs with a "green" behavior assessments (on a scale of green, blue, yellow, red) were almost four and a half times more likely to be adopted faster than "red" dogs (HR: 4.495, 95% CI 2.755-7.335, p < .001) before breed labels were removed, but only two times as likely to be adopted faster afterwards (HR: 2.220, 95% CI 1.514-3.254, p < .001). The return rate stayed constant across the two time periods at 6%. These findings provide new insights on dog adoptions in the NYC area and suggest that the removal of breed labels will help all dogs get adopted from animal shelters.
Project description:A considerable number of adopted animals are returned to animal shelters post-adoption which can be stressful for both the animal and the owner. In this retrospective analysis of 23,932 animal records from a US shelter, we identified animal characteristics associated with the likelihood of return, key return reasons, and outcomes post-return for dogs and cats. Binary logistic regression models were used to describe the likelihood of return, return reason and outcome based on intake age, intake type, sex, breed and return frequency. Behavioral issues and incompatibility with existing pets were the most common return reasons. Age and breed group (dogs only) predicted the likelihood of return, return reason and post-adoption return outcome. Adult dogs had the greatest odds of post-adoption return (OR 3.40, 95% CI 2.88-4.01) and post-return euthanasia (OR 3.94, 95% CI 2.04-7.59). Toy and terrier breeds were 65% and 35% less likely to be returned compared with herding breeds. Pit bull-type breeds were more likely to be returned multiple times (X<sub>2</sub> = 18.11, p = 0.01) and euthanized post-return (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.47-4.61). Our findings highlight the importance of animal behavior in the retention of newly adopted animals and provide useful direction for allocation of resources and future adoption counselling and post-adoption support services.
Project description:A severe regenerative anemia was detected in a 12-week-old mixed breed puppy in Sweden. A small protozoan parasite was observed in erythrocytes on a blood smear. It was initially suspected to be Babesia gibsoni based on its size and because B. gibsoni was previously recorded in Sweden. Surprisingly, specific polymerase chain reaction analysis identified the protozoan as Theileria annae. T. annae is endemic in Northwest Spain, is very uncommonly reported elsewhere and has never been recorded in Scandinavia. T. annae has been identified in dogs used for dog fighting, and it is thought to be transmitted by dog bites. This puppy was a mixed pit bull terrier. Pit bull terriers are sometimes used for dog fighting. T. annae has been reported to be transmitted vertically, and in light of the puppy's age, this transmission was suspected in the present case.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>A retrospective case-control study was conducted to estimate breed predisposition for common orthopaedic conditions in 12 popular dog breeds in Norway and Sweden. Orthopaedic conditions investigated were elbow dysplasia (ED); cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCLD); medial patellar luxation (MPL); and fractures of the radius and ulna. Dogs surgically treated for the conditions above at the Swedish and Norwegian University Animal Hospitals between the years 2011 and 2015 were compared with a geographically adjusted control group calculated from the national ID-registries. Logistic regression analyses (stratified for clinic and combined) were used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals. Mixed breed dogs were used as reference.<h4>Results</h4>Breeds found at-risk for ED were the Labrador retriever (OR?=?5.73), the Rottweiler (OR?=?5.63), the German shepherd dog (OR?=?3.31) and the Staffordshire bull terrier (OR?=?3.08). The Chihuahua was the only breed where an increased risk for MPL (OR?=?2.80) was identified. While the Rottweiler was the only breed predisposed for CCLD (OR?=?3.96), the results were conflicting for the Labrador retriever (OR?=?0.44 in Sweden, 2.85 in Norway); the overall risk was identical to mixed-breed dogs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Most results are in concordance with earlier studies. However, an increased risk of CCLD was not identified for the Labrador retriever, the Staffordshire bull terrier was found to have an increased risk of ED and some country-specific differences were noted. These results highlight the importance of utilising large caseloads and appropriate control groups when breed susceptibility is reported.
Project description:Millions of dogs enter animal welfare organizations every year and only a fraction of them are adopted. Despite the most recent American Pet Products Association (APPA) data that nearly half the US population owns a dog, only 20% acquired their dog from an animal welfare organization. Studies show that people consider adopting from an animal shelter more often than they actually do, which indicates a potential market increase if programs can make shelter dogs more visible to adopters. This research focused on a novel adoption program where shelter dogs were transferred into foster homes who were tasked with finding an adopter. Shelter dogs were placed in the path of potential adopters and bypassed the need for the adopter to go to the shelter. The results show that this novel program was effective in a variety of ways including getting dogs adopted. Although length of stay was significantly longer for dogs in the program, the dogs were in a home environment, not taking up kennel space in the shelter. The program also had a lower rate of returns than dogs adopted at the shelter. The foster program tapped adopters in different geographical segments of the community than the dogs adopted from the shelter. By bringing shelter dogs to where adopters spend their time (ex: restaurants, parks, hair salons), the program potentially captured a segment of the population who might have obtained their dog from other sources besides the shelter (such as breeders or pet stores). This novel approach can be an effective method for adoption, has many benefits for shelters, and can tap into a new adopter market by engaging their community in a new way.
Project description:Previous empirical evaluations of training programs aimed at improving dog adoption rates assume that dogs exhibiting certain behaviors are more adoptable. However, no systematic data are available to indicate that the spontaneous behavior of shelter dogs has an effect on adopter preference. The aim of the present study was to determine whether any behaviors that dogs exhibit spontaneously in the presence of potential adopters were associated with the dogs' length of stay in the shelter. A sample of 289 dogs was videotaped for 1 min daily throughout their stay at a county shelter. To account for differences in adopter behavior, experimenters varied from solitary passive observers to pairs of interactive observers. Dogs behaved more attentively to active observers. To account for adopter preference for morphology, dogs were divided into "morphologically preferred" and "non-preferred" groups. Morphologically preferred dogs were small, long coated, ratters, herders, and lap dogs. No theoretically significant differences in behavior were observed between the two different dog morphologies. When accounting for morphological preference, three behaviors were found to have a significant effect on length of stay in all dogs: leaning or rubbing on the enclosure wall (increased median length of stay by 30 days), facing away from the front of the enclosure (increased by 15 days), and standing (increased by 7 days). When combinations of behaviors were assessed, back and forth motion was found to predict a longer stay (increased by 24 days). No consistent behavioral changes were observed due to time spent at the shelter. These findings will allow shelters to focus behavioral modification efforts only on behaviors likely to influence adopters' choices.
Project description:Most animal shelters conduct behavioral evaluations before making dogs available for adoption. However, little information exists on whether behaviors displayed during these assessments predict a dog's length of stay at the shelter. We reviewed nearly 5 years of records from 975 dogs released for adoption at a New York shelter to see whether behaviors shown during their evaluation predicted length of stay. For most tests and subtests, the prevalence of concerning and especially dangerous behaviors was low. Nevertheless, dogs' scores on some tests or subtests-food guarding and meeting another dog-predicted length of stay at the shelter. Dogs evaluated as showing dangerous behavior had longer lengths of stay than dogs evaluated as showing either concerning behavior or no concerning behavior; the latter two groups did not differ from one another in length of stay. The most likely explanation for the relationships found between behavior during the evaluation and length of stay at the shelter is that dogs with challenging behaviors had smaller pools of potential adopters. Understanding the relationships between performance on behavioral evaluations and length of stay may inform shelter management of canine populations and also help identify dogs requiring special adoption efforts to avoid long shelter stays.