Carroll College Receives Grant to Expand Research on Temporary Fostering Programs for Dogs

Friday, February 17, 2017

HELENA – Carroll College received a grant award in the amount of $40,000 for Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, assistant professor of anthrozoology, to continue her research examining the effectiveness of canine temporary fostering programs. The funding is part of a larger grant awarded in conjunction with Arizona State University for $160,000 through Maddie’s Fund.

This grant is a continuation of the research work Dr. Feuerbacher and Lisa Gunter, a doctoral student from the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, undertook in the summer of 2016 working with dogs from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Their research was funded through a $20,000 grant from Maddie’s Fund as well.

Through their research, they found that the sleepover program at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which entailed dogs being fostered by a person for an evening, significantly reduced stress levels in shelter dogs. This outcome was not necessarily expected given that the shelter dogs were going to a new place with a new person–yet their stress levels dropped. Subsequently, Dr. Feuerbacher and ASU researchers are expanding their research to four new locations to see how generalizable those results are as Best Friends is a unique shelter. They are running similar programs with the Humane Society of Western Montana in Missoula, the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, the SPCA of Texas in Dallas and potentially a shelter in Georgia.

“We are very excited to have received a second grant from Maddie's Fund. Research like this is becoming increasingly important as shelters are implementing new programs to help meet their dogs’ needs and increase shelter dog welfare. There are a lot of great shelter programs out there but not many have been scientifically evaluated. Shelters have limited resources so research like this can help them identify which of those programs are going to be effective for decreasing stress in their shelter,” said Feuerbacher.

The intent of these studies is to provide animal shelters with a better understanding of how behavioral information from temporary fosters can be used in the prediction of future behavior in adoptive homes. If fosters can provide more predictive behavioral information, such programs could be of interest to shelters that want to improve their adoption efforts.

This research was made possible through a grant from Maddie’s Fund, a California foundation that is working toward the goal of a no-kill nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats are guaranteed a loving home. 

About Maddie’s Fund

The Maddie's Fund mission is to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. Maddie's Fund is a family foundation founded in 1994 by Workday co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, they have awarded more than $172 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S.

Learn more about Anthrozoology at Carroll College