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Carroll Receives Grant to Research Welfare of Shelter Dogs

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August 2, 2016

HELENA – Carroll College received a grant award in the amount of $20,000 for Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, assistant professor of anthrozoology, to conduct a two-year research project into the effect of single or pair housing on the welfare of shelter dogs. The goals of the research are to assess the effect of co-housing on the short- and long-term welfare of the shelter dogs as well as determine if co-housing dogs in the shelter environment would decrease kennel-related stress.

Dr. Feuerbacher, along with Carroll College anthrozoology student and research assistant Katherine Martineau, will be working with dogs from the Lewis and Clark Humane Society in Helena, Mont. The research will serve as Martineau’s senior honors thesis and was made possible through a grant from the WALTHAM Foundation, a non-charitable organization established with the aim of promoting innovative and humane studies that advance the understanding of the nutrition, welfare and healthy longevity of companion animals worldwide.

“An estimated 10 million dogs are in shelters in the U.S. at any given time. Shelters can be stressful environments for the dogs and our goal in our research is to identify ways in which shelters can help reduce stress and improve adoptability,” said Feuerbacher.

Through their research, Feuerbacher and Martineau will evaluate whether being housed with another dog influences dogs' stress levels at shelters, whether it influences how quickly dogs are adopted, and whether dogs that are pair-housed maintain dog-dog social skills better. If the results of the research help dogs, Feuerbacher explains this could be a relatively affordable and easily implemented intervention to improve the lives and adoptability of shelter dogs.

“Our research will help shelters make the best decisions for their dogs and improve the welfare of shelter dogs. I was incredibly honored to receive the grant from the WALTHAM foundation and am so glad to be embarking on this research,” continued Feuerbacher.

While the results of this study will provide substantive evidence for the impact that pair-housing can have on the welfare of shelter dogs, it would apply also to dogs maintained in kennels at research facilities, service dog facilities, and dog boarding facilities. Such research allows for data-based decisions to enhance companion animal welfare.

About the WALTHAM Foundation

The WALTHAM Foundation, based in Leicestershire, England, is a non-charitable organization dedicated to expanding the frontiers of humane scientific research into the nutrition and healthy longevity of companion animals around the world. Since its inception in 2001, the WALTHAM Foundation has funded projects in over 20 countries and provided in excess of $1,000,000 towards research that helps to improve the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide. Up to 15 projects are funded per year. WALTHAM is proud to partner with many of the world’s leading researchers.