Saturday, March 23, 2013

Study on Length of Stay in Two NY Shelters

Does coat color matter in terms of a dog's likelihood of adoption? What about breed?

Researchers in New York looked at the records of two no-kill shelters, the TCSPCA and the HSYC. You can see the entire journal article here.

They were interested if age, coat color, weight, or breed impacted the length of stay at these two shelters.

Their results are interesting. The results may not apply to all shelters.

The average length of stay for all dogs was a little over a month. Older dogs stayed longer, and there were no statistically significant differences in length of stay for male versus female dogs.

Size - smaller stays shorter
Size seemed to impact length of stay the greatest. Small dogs remained at these two shelters for a far shorter period of time than larger dogs. This makes sense. Many landlords limit the weight of dogs they accept, especially at managed apartment complexes. Smaller dogs are easier to manage, handle, and cheaper to care for (generally speaking).

I found it fascinating that it was dogs the size of Mina and Celeste who remained at the shelter the longest. Medium sized dogs had a longer length of stay than even large and x-large dogs. I wonder if more x-large dogs are purebreds sought after by breed-specific rescues?

Breed - larger is better
Larger breed types remained at these shelters for shorter period of times. Guard breeds remained at the shelter the longest. Bully breeds (e.g. Pit Bulls) did not have the longest length of stay and remained at these two shelters for similar periods as hound and sporting type dogs. Researchers note that other studies have shown that breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier remain at shelters for longer or are killed sooner by shelter employees.

Color - blind 
What I think a lot of people will find the most interesting is that coat color did not seem to play a role in length of stay. That is, black dogs were not living at the shelter for fifteen years. The researchers pointed out that other studies have shown other results.

A lot of this probably depends on the shelter (no-kill v. hi-kill), location (rural v. urban), and the support from the community & shelter itself.

My experiences at two shelters, over a period of six years, aligns with some of these results and not others. I never saw dogs who were black be adopted less frequently. Puppies were always popular and so were small dogs. At the hi-kill, larger shelters, Pit Bulls and Labrador Retrievers comprised the two largest populations of dogs who were at the shelter and who were also killed by the shelter. This shelter serviced the greater Sacramento region which is comprised of both heavily urban and rural regions. The other shelter, a no-kill shelter in a very urban region did not have problems placing Pit Bulls.

What do you think?

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