Monthly Archives: March 2012

Annotated bibliographies relating to animal issues

Cook, G. (2010). Where should you go to find a good dog? Here’s what you need to know about breeders and shelters. Washingtonian, 136-143.

This article from the Washingtonian magazine discusses what one needs to know about buying from a breeder and also provides information on adopting from an animal shelter. I thought this was a good article for those who don’t really know much about either issue (breeding vs. rescuing) because it takes an unbiased approach to both sides of the spectrum.

When it comes to buying from a breeder, the author stresses the importance of doing a great deal of research, especially if one found the breeder via the internet, which is becoming a popular source for pet purchases. Many breeders that people find online are actually puppy mills. The breeder should be willing to provide referrals from past customers and should be inspected by the American Kennel Club. They should also have no problem letting you see the puppies’ mother or registration papers. The best breeders should also be able to give a customer a good idea of what they should expect with their new pet because they should have a history of the pet’s breeding lines. There are plenty of questions a prospective pet owner should ask a breeder, and a good breeder should have questions to ask in return. The breeder should be interested in the type of home the dog will be living in as they will want to make sure it will be a good fit.

Rescuing a pet from an animal shelter is an alternative to buying from a breeder. With home foreclosures often forcing people to get rid of their pets, animal shelters are acquiring record numbers of abandoned animals. Most people go to a breeder because they want a purebred animal; however those can be found at a shelter as well. About 25% of shelter dogs are purebred. But just because an animal is purebred doesn’t mean it is better than a mutt, in fact, the article says that a mix of a lot of genotypes can actually be healthier. Some people stay away from adopting from a shelter because they believe that a breeder will know more about the pet they are adopting. But this is not always the case. Most animal shelters spend a lot of time with the dogs and give the animal a report card which details their behavior, temperament and sociability.

The price difference between a dog from a breeder and a rescued dog are drastically different. Purebred dogs from breeders usually range from $500 to $2000. Animal shelters do have adoption fees, but they are much less than buying from a breeder and go toward paying for the costs of running the shelter and spaying/neutering the pet.

As mentioned, this article takes an unbiased approach to the issue, which is why I believe it is a useful and reliable source for my project. Even though the article didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know, it is good to see various points of view.

Markovits, A. S., & Queen, R. (2009). Women and the World of Dog Rescue: A Case Study of the State of Michigan. Society & Animals, 17(4), 325-342.

This article looks at how the perception of pets, and dogs in particular, have changed over the past 20 years in the United States. Today, about 85% of dog owners in the U.S. consider their pet to be a part of their family. The article also focuses on how women are leading the dog rescue movement and are the leading force in the changing dynamics of the human-animal relationship. Some statistics provided include that 85% of the books written about dogs in 2005 had female authors, whereas in 1970, only 30% of these books had female authors. In 1972, only 9.4% of veterinarians were women, by 2002 71.5% were women. Thus, it is no surprise that animal rights activists and rescuers are disproportionately female.

While I have always thought the words “animal rescues” and “animal shelters” could be used interchangeably, this article says otherwise. Dog rescues didn’t really come about until the 1980s and 90s. Dog rescues differ from shelters and humane societies in that these animals are actually kept in a volunteer’s home as a foster dog rather than staying in a shelter’s kennel. This allows the dog to learn some house manners and receive the attention they deserve.  As mentioned the leaders of these rescue organizations tend to be female. The article found that of the 115 breed rescues in New England in 2005, only four had a male president or contact person.

Much of this article deals with a case study performed by the authors that looked at dog rescuers in Michigan and the how gender seems to play into the attitude one has about animals and dog rescuing. The study was conducted by both surveys and personal interviews. Some of the survey questions were: “Animals have the same basic rights as humans,” and “I would rather spend time with my dog than my spouse/significant other,” to which the women showed a higher level of agreement than men.

The study also looked at why the respondents thought women were more involved in dog rescuing than men. Most female respondents seemed to agree that it was because women are “more caring and nurturing, more interested in animal well-being, and more willing to deal with problems.” However, male respondents tended to think there were more women in the dog rescue world because they think women have more time on their hands and are less taxed with their work. Also examined in this case study were the education level, marital status, political and religious affiliations, income and type of employment those had that tend to be involved in dog rescuing.

This information seems reliable and objective as the researchers provided detailed information on exactly how the study was conducted. It is different from other sources I have read in that it focuses more on people and gender in particular, than on animals. It was interesting to think of animal rescuing in this perspective, though it does not really matter to me what gender is helping animals more, as long as people are helping them.

Mornement, K. M., Coleman, G. J., Toukhsati, S., & Bennett, P. C. (2010). A Review of Behavioral Assessment Protocols Used by Australian Animal Shelters to Determine the Adoption Suitability of Dogs. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 13(4), 314-329.

This journal article focuses on animal shelters in Australia and looks at how these shelters assess the suitability of an adoption. In Australia, like most developed countries today, dogs are popular companions. However, as with any country, many dogs are abandoned and end up in an animal shelter. The reasons for this vary, but the most common reason for dogs in Australia to end up in a shelter is for “behavioral problems.” These behavioral issues include “aggression toward people and other dogs, destructive behavior, inappropriate elimination, escaping, hyperactivity/boisterousness, and vocalization.”

A typical shelter will perform a behavioral assessment, or temperament test, on the dog before adoption takes place. Dogs who do not pass this assessment and show excessive aggressiveness are not cleared for adoption and are either rehabilitated, retained in permanent confinement or even euthanized.

The purpose of this particular study was to look at the behavioral assessment protocols used by the sample of Australian animal shelters. The researchers also aimed to discover how confident those who assess the dogs are in the protocols used and in their ability to assess a dog’s behavior. The study was conducted by interviewing people who work at Australian shelters and conduct these assessments and by observing and reviewing material about the assessment protocols. Throughout the study more than 50 assessments were observed during various visits to the 11 shelters that took part in the study.

The study found that the interpretation of the data collected through a behavior assessment tended to be very subjective. For example, some of the assessment protocols asked the assessor to rank certain aspects of the dogs behavior as “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” “unsuitable,” etc., but the different options were not defined, so it was up to the assessor’s discretion as to what to mark for the dog. Thus, the decisions about the fate of the dog were usually made subjectively and without proper reason.

Interviews with staff members that perform these assessments indicated that even with higher levels of experience, many were not confident conducting such assessments. Also, only two thirds of those in the study had actually received any training to conduct these assessments. Many staff members said that they were usually not given enough time to conduct an accurate assessment of each dog before making decisions.

Overall, the study found that while it is good that Australian shelters are trying to ensure that dogs do not end up in a home that is not a good fit or that someone does not adopt a dog with severe behavioral issues, the dogs are poorly assessed. The assessment protocols should take a more scientific approach and clearly define different aspects of the dog’s behavior that the assessor should be looking for. Also, these assessments should be standardized across all shelters and should provide more reliability, validity and feasibility than what is currently in place. In addition, staff assessing these behaviors should be trained.

This source is definitely useful to my research and seems reliable and objective. It would be interesting to see a study like this of American shelters though. It’s also made me more aware that even though shelters are helping animals, their practices are not always flawless.

Daffron, S. (2009). Funds to the rescue: 101 fundraising ideas for humane and animal rescue groups. Sandpoint, ID: Logical Expressions.

This book is written for those that work for non-profit animal organizations. Obviously, a very big and important issue for these organizations is making sure they have the funds to do everything that they want to do. Funds to the Rescue saves these organizations the time of researching their different options and provides much of the information needed to start new fundraisers.

The book starts out with a section called “The How’s and Why’s of Fundraising.” This section provides a lot of background information and gives some of the keys to successful fundraising. Also included in this section is information on some legal issues that could be faced when doing a fundraiser and how to avoid that. The following section looks at the marketing strategies of non-profit fundraising. One thing the organization should never lose focus of when doing their fundraising is its mission. The money donated is for an important cause and that should be emphasized throughout the fundraising campaign.

The book also looks at how to put a successful team together to work on the campaign. It’s important to get the right personalities together and when you’re only working with volunteers this can be difficult. Obviously another important step to fundraising is planning. This includes setting goals and objectives, having a fundraising calendar and deadline, offering several ways to donate, assigning roles, etc. Saying “thank you” and showing appreciation when people donate is something that should not be forgotten as well. The second section of the book focuses on fundraising ideas. This section provides 101 different ideas for fundraisers and tells you how to get them started.

The goal of this source is to help out non-profit rescue organizations with raising funds, so for those who do not or do not plan to be involved in non-profit animal organizations this book would not be of interest. I found it to be useful though as fundraising will always be an important part of animal rescuing. The information provided was reliable and helpful. Since my project deals with animal rescuing, this should be able to tie in.

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Animal Rescue Links

Here are some great links I’ve come across that deal with animal issues. Check them out!

These links are for videos from the Pedigree YouTube channel. Pedigree does a lot of work to help shelter dogs, and they’ve made several videos advocating the importance of adopting from shelters. The first video is one of my favorites. Although it’s short, the message is one that will stick with you. The video it aims to break stereotypes about shelter dogs and encourages shelter adoption. The second link goes to a touching video that highlights a particular dog, Echo, who was adopted from a shelter. The Pedigree channel has several videos like this that feature different dogs who were adopted from shelters. The end of the video talks about the Pedigree adoption drive, a campaign Pedigree started a few years ago in which they help shelter dogs find homes. It’s good to see a large corporation like Pedigree taking notice of such an important issue and doing their part to help!

This link goes to a website for an international organization called Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The website has a lot of interesting information and videos about what the organization has done to help animals in need all over the globe. Two of their main programs are the Shelter of the Week program and Operation Baghdad Pups. The Shelter of the Week program honors an animal shelter each week by featuring them on the website and providing the shelter with a cash grant. Operation Baghdad Pups provides veterinary care to the stray dogs US soldiers have befriended while fighting for our country. This program also helps out with getting the dogs to soldiers after they return to the states. This organization is not as big or well known as ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States, but it does a lot of good work for the sake of animals.

This blog called, A Place to Bark, chronicles the life of dog and cat rescuer Bernie Berlin. She rescues dogs who have been abandoned, abused, confiscated from the police, or are scheduled to be euthanized at other shelters. A Place to Bark is a registered non-profit organization in Tennessee. The blog has a lot of posts about what the organization is accomplishing and features particular animals and tells their stories. This is a fairly new organization, and in just five years it has saved 2500 animals. However, due to the economy and lack of funding, A Place to Bark (along with many other shelters) are facing financial issues. In fact, this past July the organization was almost forced to close its doors, but thanks to a grant it was able to make ends meet. Nevertheless, costs of keeping up a place this is a constant struggle, and donations are always needed and appreciated.

This is a blog that focuses on providing tips to animal shelters. Their tips vary from fundraising ideas to getting more grants to finding volunteers and more. This is a great website for people who work or volunteer at an animal shelter to check out to get some ideas to better operate the shelter. For example, one blog posts emphasizes the importance of leaving politics out of animal shelters. Bringing politics into the animal shelter can create tension between workers or volunteers who disagree with your point of view. This also takes attention away from the real problem at hand: saving the animals.

The Animal Advocates website has tons of information about animal cruelty and advocating for animals. One of their campaigns is called “Unchain Your Friends” which sends an important message about how dog owners should not be able to leave their pets chained to a tree for its life. One heartbreaking video dealing with this issue on the website tells the story of a dog who spent 10 years on a chain with basically no companionship or attention. The neighbors of this dog had even seen its owners urinating on her from the porch. After years of phone calls to authorities, the dog was finally rescued by animal advocates and now lives with a family that loves and cares for her. The people behind this website do a lot of good for the sake of animals, including abused animal rescue, puppy mill rescue, advocacy for animals, pet store investigations, and more, all of which is chronicled on this website.

Photo Slideshow

This is a photo slideshow I created of photos I took at the Effingham County Humane Society.

Man on the Street Interviews

This is a compilation of interview questions I asked several people to find out what people know about animal rescuing.