Preventing pet relinquishment at animal shelters in Los Angeles: Human risk factors and social safety net services
One potential way to reduce shelter euthanasia is to decrease relinquishment by keeping pets in their homes when possible. To learn about people who relinquish their pets, we conducted a study of people relinquishing to a municipal animal shelter in Los Angeles, CA. Our study had 166 cases intending to relinquish and 125 controls. Overall, respondents were primarily Spanish speaking (60%) with a high school diploma or less. 84% made less than $30,000 annually but only 32.5% were on public assistance. 72% were not aware of services available to them to help them keep their pets. 96% reported that something had changed in their household that led to the decision to relinquish, primarily related to costs. We found relinquishing to be related to higher stress, less attachment, expectations of the dog’s behavior, and whether the dog was more work than expected. Other important variables included whether people rented their home, being on public assistance, and lower education. A second area of study focused on a group of people who accessed a safety net program offering services like free/low-cost altering, and medical care to help people keep their pets. Among the 37 people we contacted one month after receiving safety net services, we found that 92% reported the animal was still in the home as a result of receiving services. Together, these data provide insight into animal relinquishment in Los Angeles and suggest interventions that are well received and help keep at least some pets in their homes.
Other professions or practice related to public health
Describe human risk factors for pet relinquishment in Los Angeles. Discuss safety net interventions that help people in need keep their pets.
Keyword(s): Veterinary Public Health, Risk Factors/Assesment
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Public Health researcher at a national not-for-profit animal welfare organization. Our research is focused on the intersection of human risk factors and animal welfare.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.