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Impact of euthanasia rates, euthanasia practices, and human resource practices on employee turnover in animal shelters

Steven G. RogelbergDepartment of Psychology and Organizational Science, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223

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Charlie L. ReeveDepartment of Psychology and Organizational Science, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223

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Christiane SpitzmüllerDepartment of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204

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Natalie DiGiacomoSpartanburg Humane Society, 150 Dexter Rd, Spartanburg, SC 29303

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Olga L. ClarkDepartment of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT 06117

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Lisa TeeterDevelopment Dimensions International Inc (DDI), 1225 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017

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Alan G. WalkerDepartment of Psychology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858-4353

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Paula G. StarlingDepartment of Psychology, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101

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Nathan T. CarterDepartment of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43402

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Abstract

Objective—To examine the effects of euthanasia rates, euthanasia practices, and human resource practices on the turnover rate among employees with euthanasia responsibilities at animal shelters.

Design—Cross-sectional original study.

Sample Population—36 shelters across the United States that employed at least 5 full-time employees and performed euthanasia on site.

Procedures—By mail, 1 survey was sent to each shelter. Surveys were completed by a senior member of management and were returned by mail. Questions assessed characteristics (eg, euthanasia rates) and practices of the animal shelter, along with employee turnover rates. By use of correlation coefficients and stepwise regression analyses, key predictors of turnover rates among employees with euthanasia responsibilities were investigated.

Results—Employee turnover rates were positively related to euthanasia rate. Practices that were associated with decreased turnover rates included provision of a designated euthanasia room, exclusion of other live animals from vicinity during euthanasia, and removal of euthanized animals from a room prior to entry of another animal to be euthanized. Making decisions regarding euthanasia of animals on the basis of factors other than behavior and health reasons was related to increased personnel turnover. With regard to human resources practices, shelters that used a systematic personnel selection procedure (eg, standardized testing) had comparatively lower employee turnover.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Data obtained may suggest several specific avenues that can be pursued to mitigate turnover among employees with euthanasia responsibilities at animal shelters and animal control or veterinary medical organizations.

Abstract

Objective—To examine the effects of euthanasia rates, euthanasia practices, and human resource practices on the turnover rate among employees with euthanasia responsibilities at animal shelters.

Design—Cross-sectional original study.

Sample Population—36 shelters across the United States that employed at least 5 full-time employees and performed euthanasia on site.

Procedures—By mail, 1 survey was sent to each shelter. Surveys were completed by a senior member of management and were returned by mail. Questions assessed characteristics (eg, euthanasia rates) and practices of the animal shelter, along with employee turnover rates. By use of correlation coefficients and stepwise regression analyses, key predictors of turnover rates among employees with euthanasia responsibilities were investigated.

Results—Employee turnover rates were positively related to euthanasia rate. Practices that were associated with decreased turnover rates included provision of a designated euthanasia room, exclusion of other live animals from vicinity during euthanasia, and removal of euthanized animals from a room prior to entry of another animal to be euthanized. Making decisions regarding euthanasia of animals on the basis of factors other than behavior and health reasons was related to increased personnel turnover. With regard to human resources practices, shelters that used a systematic personnel selection procedure (eg, standardized testing) had comparatively lower employee turnover.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Data obtained may suggest several specific avenues that can be pursued to mitigate turnover among employees with euthanasia responsibilities at animal shelters and animal control or veterinary medical organizations.

Contributor Notes

Supported by The Humane Society of the United States.

Presented at the 2003 Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Annual Conference.

Address correspondence to Dr. Rogelberg.