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Comparison of the characteristics and attitudes of dog adopters from three dog rescue groups

By Zelda L. Zimmerman

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A web-based survey was conducted to investigate the relationships between adopters and the dogs they adopted from three types of rescue groups/organizations: humane societies, greyhound rescues, and pit bull rescues. The dog selected to adopt can vary for many reasons, one of which is breed preference. This study found dog adopters from the three rescues differ according to different owner demographic characteristics, reasons for adoption, attitudes toward the adopted dog, feelings of attachment to the adopted dog, and experiences with the dog and rescue organizations. Two thirds of the pit pull adopters took their dog to obedience training while on one-third of the adopters from the other rescue groups did. The majority of all adopters responding felt they had helped save a life by adopting from a rescue organization but the pit bull adopters indicated felt most strongly (82%) compared to humane society adopters (67%) and greyhound adopters (60%). This study also found commonalities in the emotional experience of having a close and caring relationship with a pet, irrespective of where an adopter finds the companion dog. The majority of all adopters (93%) considered their adopted dog as member of the family rather than a pet. Stereotypes associated with the types of rescue dogs adopted were confirmed and/or dispelled. Overall, the adopters were satisfied with
 their adopted rescue dog as well as feeling their adopted dog exceeded their expectations. Nearly 95% of adopters in each rescue indicated they would adopt future dogs from the same rescue organization. Future studies are needed to address underrepresentation of males and minority racial/ethnic groups as well as access responses from adopters not volunteering to participate in an online survey.


Katie Carroll

Date 2013
Pages 1-274
Publisher Oregon State University
Degree Master of Arts
Language English
University Oregon State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adoption
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal shelters
  4. Attitudes about animals
  5. Characteristics
  6. Dogs
  7. Mammals
  8. Pet ownership
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. rescue dogs