Organization: University of Denver
Investigator(s): Sloane M. Hawes, Josephine Kerrigan and Kevin Morris
Grant Amount: n/a
Project Type: Basic Research
Project Status: Research Complete
This study from the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, at University of Denver, aimed to assess the factors that inform outcomes of older cats and dogs. This study found that a pet's condition at intake had the greatest impact on the outcomes. Additionally, the application of specialized veterinary care, such as orthopedic surgery or chronic disease maintenance, is discussed as factors that inform higher rates of live outcomes for these senior companion animals.
To assess the factors that inform the outcomes of these older cats and dogs
This was a retrospective cohort study using data from the Austin Pets Alive! (APA) ShelterLuv database. The sample consisted of 124 cats and 122 dogs over the age of 84 months (seven years) taken in over a one-year period. To assess the impact of condition at intake on the outcome for the senior animals, a multinomial logistic regression was performed. Beyond age, this study also looked at other considerations for shelter decision-making, including breed, size, condition on intake, treatment plan, and reason for surrender. Understanding these variables and the relationship that they have to length of stay and live outcomes can support animal shelters in critically evaluating their policies and programs for older cats and dogs.
Length of Stay (LOS)
Predictors of Outcomes
By determining the gaps in shelters' programs for older cats and dogs, shelter management can address the factors that have driven this population to be one of the most at-risk for euthanasia. These findings indicate that preventative programming addressing the reasons these older animals are surrendered (preventative outreach), as well as advancements in specialized medical or behavioral programs for ageing companion animals, and a strong foster care system that is equipped to address the needs of older animals in their homes may support an increase in live outcomes for older cats and dogs in shelters. Further study is needed to evaluate how the quality of life of older animals is impacted by remaining in the care of shelters rather than being euthanized.