A Life and Death Matter

Posted by & filed under Dr. Nick, Pet Care Advice, Pet Education.

by Dr. Nicholas Dodman

Dr NIcholas Dodman

As Chief Scientific Officer for the Center for Canine Behavior Studies along with Dr. James Serpell PhD of the University of Pennsylvania, we propose an Animal Ownership Interaction Study designed to determine the precise impact dog owners have on their pets’ behavior. The Halo Pet Foundation has generously helped fund this vital study, which is fully up and running. One of the biggest challenges we face now is the mass recruitment of volunteers willing to participate in this life-saving study. Yes, we need huge numbers of dog owners to enroll their dog(s)!

You would think that recruiting dog owners to participate in our study should be an easy task, considering the many owners who love dogs, especially those who have adopted a shelter dog on track to being euthanized. However, recruitment of the scale we need hasn’t been easy. While we all want to see America achieve the goal of reducing surrender of dogs to shelters and the successful adoption all dogs who end up in one, accomplishing this objective is not something that can be achieved with just a few simple measures.

Solving the shelter problem will require the convergence of numerous forces to collectively move the ball forward. We need to address this problem in terms of minimizing relinquishment and facilitating successful adoptions. Everyone—from individual dog owners to major foundations that provide critical animal welfare grants—loves to see immediate results.  For example, the former pet dog facing imminent destruction unless an adopter is found, or the suffering animal that needs an immediate lifesaving operation. And many people want to support the shelter or rescue desperate for food supplies and to improve and facilitate shelter operations.  

Major animal welfare organizations with big budgets can take such missions directly to big-hearted donors via radio and TV, while smaller less well funded organizations can use crowdfunding sites, such as the Halo-sponsored LoveAnimals.org site developed specifically to support animal welfare of all kinds anywhere in the world. But no matter if it’s a big budget or small budget organization asking for support, that support most often asks the animal lover to respond to an immediate crisis with a financial contribution. That’s great, but preventing dogs from being relinquished in the first place is at least as important.

The Animal Ownership Interaction Study is asking for dog-owning volunteers to participate in an on-line survey of about 100 questions about themselves and their dogs and to retake part of the survey every 6 months for a year or so. Volunteering to participate in this citizen science human-canine interaction study may not generate immediate satisfaction in saving a dog’s life, but it will contribute to preventing the surrender of dogs in the future and will thus save lives. Without your help TODAY there will be tens of thousands of dogs that will have NO FUTURE.

Achieving—or simply getting closer to—the No Kill goal must start by embracing TODAY the concept of pre-emptive prevention solutions to canine relinquishment and abandonment that result from the breaking of the human-canine bond due to canine misbehavior.

The findings and results Dr. Serpell and I anticipate garnering from the Animal Ownership Interaction Study will contribute significantly to better understanding how to provide pre-emptive preventive help to dog owners to maintain the human-canine bond before it breaks. We might also be able to support making better matches between a potential adopter and dog that would significantly reduce the risk of repeat relinquishment or abandonment.

The dogs do not know that this is about life and death, but dog owners should. Because the Center is headquartered in Connecticut—home to YALE University, the nation’s oldest and one of its leading universities—we have established a Board of Canine Ambassadors, including their iconic canine Handsome Dan XVII  (aka Sherman) to be the Chairman of the Board. Two of Dan’s newest board members are Dubs I representing the University of Washington and the mighty Mo Grigsby of Moravian College, the fastest canine mascot in America. Under the leadership of Chairman Handsome Dan, his board of canine ambassadors are (unwittingly) supporting the Canines Saving Canines campaign to help spread the word about the study and encourage dog owners to volunteer for the study.

Will you please help? If so, please visit our website at DrDodman.Org and see what participation involves.

Armed with this information, PLEASE consider volunteering with your dog to participate in the study and help us spread the word. It’s easy, it’s free and there are benefits to participating, the most important of which is helping to provide one critical piece of the solution to achieving No Kill.

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