Defining an Adoptable Animal
Animal shelters are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Many have limited resources and more animals in need of placement than people who are willing to adopt them. This leads to tough decisions like determining if money and time should be spent making an animal with health or behavior problems “adoptable,” or whether those resources would be better used elsewhere and the individual in question euthanized.
Up until recently, shelter personnel have had to make these life and death decisions on the fly, having little hard evidence regarding what potential owners might be willing to take on and what truly makes a pet unadoptable. Research is improving this situation though, as is evidenced by a paper entitled “Assessment of owner willingness to treat or manage diseases of dogs and cats as a guide to shelter animal adoptability” that appeared in the January 1, 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The researchers involved in the study sent out surveys to veterinarians and pet owners in Iowa to “determine what types of behavioral or medical issues owners would be willing to address and treat and how companion animal veterinarians would classify various diseases or behavioral issues according to what they thought most clients would consider to be healthy, treatable, manageable, and unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable).”
The results are encouraging. As stated in the paper’s conclusions:
So it looks like we may be underestimating potential pet owners. The presence of a treatable or manageable condition is not reason enough to disqualify a dog or cat as potential adoptee.
What do you think? Would you be willing to adopt a pet with medical or behavioral issues, or have you done so already?
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Source: Assessment of owner willingness to treat or manage diseases of dogs and cats as a guide to shelter animal adoptability. Murphy MD, Larson J, Tyler A, Kvam V, Frank K, Eia C, Bickett-Weddle D, Flaming K, Baldwin CJ, Petersen CA. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Jan 1;242(1):46-53.