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A review of behavioral assessment protocols used by Australian animal shelters to determine the adoption suitability of dogs

By K. M. Mornement, G. J. Coleman, S. Toukhsati, P. C. Bennett

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Shelter dogs typically undergo preadoption assessment for suitability as companions. Dogs who pass are available for adoption. Available resources determine whether dogs who fail are euthanized or rehabilitated. Accurate assessment of shelter-dog behavior is imperative to protect community welfare and dogs in the shelter system and to ensure potentially dangerous dogs are not rehomed and suitable companions not wrongly euthanized. This study reviewed a sample of Australian nonhuman animal shelters assessment protocols to determine adoption suitability. The study observed more than 50 assessments in 8 shelters, collected materials relating to the observed assessments, and interviewed 26 shelter workers who assess dogs. The results showed that Australian shelters use a variety of protocols to assess adoptability. Although shelters do their best to ensure meaningful results, assessments developed in-house predominate and lack standardization in content and methodology; none have been adequately evaluated in the peer-reviewed literature. This does not necessarily mean invalid or inappropriate assessments; rather, it indicates the need for behavioral scientists to assist in developing standardized and scientifically validated protocols for assessing shelter dogs' behavior and adoption suitability.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 13
Issue 4
Pages 314-329
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2010.483856
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Science Centre, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Victoria, 3800,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal housing
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Australasia
  6. Australia
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Commonwealth of Nations
  11. Developed countries
  12. Dogs
  13. Mammals
  14. Methodologies
  15. Methods
  16. Oceania
  17. OECD countries
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Pets and companion animals
  20. Reviews
  21. shelters
  22. standardization
  23. Techniques
  24. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed