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CVM Leads Animal Shelter Study

The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at North Carolina State University is the lead institution in a collaborative project to track shelter animal populations, uncover demographic trends, and increase awareness of the plight of homeless, abandoned, and marginalized dogs and cats in the United States.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the shelter problem is serious and growing. The ASPCA, one of the participants in the study, estimates that up to 12 million dogs and cats enter shelters annually. Of these, some nine million are euthanized.

“We need a better understanding of this national problem,” says Dr. Dianne Dunning, the director of the CVM Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program and the study’s principal investigator. “This project seeks to develop consistent shelter reporting methods and to collect valuable information on how, why, and in what condition animals find their way to shelters and what happens to them when they arrive.”

The “Shelter Population Index in Companion Animals: A Multi-Institutional Feasibility Study,” as the project is called, is funded by a $75,100 grant from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy and involves the colleges of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee in addition to the ASPCA.

A dozen shelters from Colorado, Tennessee, New York, and North Carolina are participating in the study, which includes the monthly reporting of various statistics such as the number of stray animals, health of the animal, number and health of those animals who are euthanized. Confidential and voluntary information also will be collected from individuals who are adopting or giving up animals at their local shelters.

“We expect that this collected information will provide reliable data for making informed decisions at both the national and local level,” says Dunning. “Our goal is to strengthen shelter animal medicine, promote improvement of the animal shelter system, and ensure the most humane solutions to pet overpopulation.”

The results of the year-long study will be compiled and analyzed later this year.

Posted July 19, 2007