Searles1Assessing the mental and physical stress of animals in long term shelter careby Stuart Searles.SummaryMillions of animals are surrendered to shelters each year. While many of these placeswill eventually euthanize the animal, some shelters have a no kill policy. This proposal willdetermine if keeping the animal for long term care is more humane than euthanasia. Specificallywe will determine the mental and physical impact of the dog population that is boarded for morethan one year. We believe that while keeping the dog alive and fed may seem like the morehumane approach, this may lead to mental conditions such as high anxiety and aggression thatwill make the animal unadoptable. The specific goals are:1. Determine any physical and mental problems associated with long term kennel care.2. Determine the connection between the aggression of the animal and how long it hasbeen sheltered.3. Determine the cost of long term care.4. Find alternative methods for housing adoptable pets.
Searles2IntroductionEvery day animals are given up at shelters across the country. Many of these animals arefamily pets that are surrendered for multiple reason. Most of these animals do not enter thefacility with behavioral problems but will develop different issues once abandoned and left in theshelter. A majority of shelters are funded by the city or county in which they are located andthese facilities generally dont have a policy set up to determine how long each animal is givenbefore being euthanized. The final decision on how long the animal will stay is based on manyfactors; the temperament of the animal, its overall health and the space and resources available inthe facility. Under normal circumstances these animals have approximately 12-15 days to beadopted. This small window of time for placement is why these kill shelters have been deemedinhumane by many people. Unlike the government funded shelters, there are many privatelyoperated organizations where a no kill policy has been instituted. These shelters will put theanimal down due to health problems or if it displays aggressive behavior towards humans. Themore desired pet for adoption is younger so it has a longer life span and is more easily trained.Older dogs in long term care is commonplace in no kill shelters, living in small kennelssurrounded by barking animals. The longer the animal stays in this stressful situation, the morelikely they are to adopt behavioral issues making them even more unwanted and unadoptable. Inthis project we will be determining the mental and physical stress levels on the animal and if anyfactors could help or hinder in their long term care.
Searles3Project DescriptionThis project is designed to study the effects of long term kennel care on dogs and thebehavioral and physical problems that is caused by this type of environment. My project consistsof four goals:1. Determine any physical and mental problems associated with long term kennel care.We will be evaluating a dogs physical and mental health upon entering the facility.These tests will include how the animal reacts with humans and other animals. The animal willalso recieve a full physical to rule out any underlying physical factors. We will conduct the sametests in two week intervals in order to determine any changes in the animal.2. Determine the levels of aggression and anxiety in animals that are kept in largeindoor shelters versus open range shelters.We will analyze different sets of animals placed in two separate facilities and keep themthere for the same amount of time. Studying the effects of indoor versus open range shelters onthe animals physical and mental health.3. Determine if the breed has any positive or negative influence on how the dogs reactto long term housing.We will study the behavior of different breeds over a set period of time to discover if inany way genetics helps or hinders the animal.
Searles4Methods and TimelineWe will be conducting these experiments at four separate locations including onelarge city regulated shelter, two privately owned indoor shelters and one large outdoorranch shelter. This experiment will last approximately two years to get an accurate viewof long term care. There will be twenty dogs of varying breeds placed in group sizesfrom one to four to determine if being introduced as a pack or individual plays any roleon behavior change. We will place the animals in at different times of the year so we canhave an variable timeline to see if the behavior of these animals is consistent with theother groups. These animals will have the same amount of human contact which willinclude daily walks and behavior training, group playtime. To determine any physicalchanges such as loss of muscle mass or weight we will be conducting physicals withmultiple veterinarians on location. Animals will also undergo a mental health screeningonce a month to gather any information on increasing levels of aggression towards otheranimals or humans. These experiments will include:1. Stranger aggression.a. Have a stranger walk by.b. Have the stranger hold out his/her hand.c. Have a stranger walk by with another animal.2. Food aggression.a. Take the dogs food away near the beginning, middle and end of the meal.b. Put a hand in the bowl as the dog eats to look for signs of aggression.
Searles5c. walk a dog pass the bowl while the animal is eating.3. Auditory stimulation.a. Make sudden noise as the dog walks by to study response and recover time.b. Have a noise made while the dog is in a relaxed position to study response andrecover time.These are basic animal temperament tests and they will be graded according toaggression, panic and avoidance.QualificationsI have a PH.D psychology and I am a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Iteach psychology and animal behavior classes at UCF. I supervise graduate studentsresearch projects and train advanced graduate students learning to diagnose animalbehavior problems. I will be conducting these experiments alongside well knowveterinarian and animal psychologist Amy Gilman who has had over 15 years in a privatepractice treating animals with physical and mental health issues.