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Medical, Behavioral, and Abuse Status Characteristics: Predictors of Perceived Adoptability, Appeal, and Resource Demands of Shelter Dogs

By Camille A. King, Thomas J. Smith, Elizabeth Holman, James A. Serpell, Temple Grandin

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Animal shelters commonly experience difficulties finding homes for dogs with pre-existing medical or behavioral issues. The purpose of this study was to investigate the various factors that contribute to people’s willingness to consider adopting dogs with different behavioral and medical needs and backgrounds. A web-based survey was created using the Qualtrics platform. The sample size for this study was (n = 752). Results from generalized linear mixed models and latent regression models showed that, overall stimulus, dogs described as having behavioral issues were viewed as less adoptable, less appealing, and more demanding of resources than dogs described as having medical issues. However, while women perceived dogs with behavioral issues as less adoptable than dogs with medical issues, men viewed dogs with behavioral issues as more adoptable than dogs with medical issues. Dogs described as friendly were perceived as most adoptable followed by (in order) dogs with an abuse history, dogs with allergies, and dogs that jumped/pulled. Dogs with diabetes or separation anxiety were perceived as least adoptable. Dogs described as having a history of abuse were viewed as more adoptable, more affectively appealing, and less demanding of resources than dogs with either medical or behavioral issues. Participants who currently had a dog or who were raised with a dog as a child tended to view stimulus dogs as more adoptable than their counterparts who didn’t currently have a dog or who didn’t have a dog as a child. Married persons viewed dogs as more adoptable than unmarried persons, and younger persons viewed dogs as more adoptable than older persons. Understanding the attitudes/beliefs of potential dog adopters toward various medical and behavioral issues provides animal rescue and adoption groups with valuable information on how best to market dogs who have medical or behavioral problems. Shelters can offer potential adopters training classes for dogs with behavioral problems and “how-to” educational classes for those who adopt dogs with medical problems. The purpose of this study was to examine the various factors that contribute to people’s willingness to consider adopting dogs with different behavioral and medical attributes and backgrounds. There are few extant research studies related to the perceived adoptability of dogs with pre-existing medical and behavioral problems.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 34
Issue 4
Pages 507-524
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2021.1914435
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Tags
  1. Abuse
  2. Adoption
  3. Canine
  4. Characteristics
  5. Dogs
  6. Human-animal interactions