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The impact of human interaction with shelter animals

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Category: research Video duration: The impact of human interaction with shelter animals
Lisa Gunter and Erica Feuerbacher, Assistant Professors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, have published a study showing that more time out of the kennels greatly improves the well-being of sheltered dogs.
Animal shelters need help. They're seeing an increase in intakes. Dogs are staying longer, not being adopted as quickly. And so we really need to be investigating these interventions that could help sheltering. We've looked at a number of different types of fostering, including what we call field trips, which is when the dog goes out for just an hour or two from the shelter. So a little day trip with somebody into the community. In this study, we work with shelters nationwide to try and help them implement these different programs, teaching them the skills and the support they need to give to their staff. If you were a dog in our study and you went out on a field trip, you were over four times more likely to be adopted compared to dogs at the shelter at the same time that didn't get to have one of those opportunities. And if you were a dog that went on a sleep over, so just a night or two away with somebody over 14 times more likely to be adopted. We, prior to this, did not have any sort of field trip component to our shelter, no program that we were doing with the public. But since it's one of those things where after the study we continued to do it. For us, it's been incredible. We love having a field trip program. It's probably one of the most popular programs that we do here. This ties right into the extension mission of our land grant university, where we're working with community to solve their problems and help them identify useful solutions. And then we help them implement them too. We found that when programs involve or have more members of their community participating, meaning getting those dogs out on outings and sleepovers, they're actually better performing. So I think it really does take a village here to help animal shelters, and the dogs that are living there find their new homes.