There are 580,000 homeless individuals in the US as indicated by an annual count done in 2020,1 but other estimates put the number much higher.2 According to general observations and intermittent counts, approximately 10% of people experiencing homelessness have pets.3,4 Based on this estimate, 58,000 to 140,000 pets likely exist in the US that belong to owners who have no funds for veterinary care. The exact number is hard to ascertain because pet owners constitute a hidden subpopulation of those experiencing homelessness, oftentimes due to concerns about
OBJECTIVE To determine characteristics of cats sterilized through a subsidized, reduced-cost spay-neuter program in Massachusetts and of owners who had their cats sterilized through this program.
DESIGN Cross-sectional anonymous survey and telephone interviews.
SAMPLE 1,188 (anonymous surveys) and 99 (telephone interviews) cat owners.
PROCEDURES Owners who had a cat sterilized at clinics held between January 2006 and December 2008 were invited to complete anonymous surveys. Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with owners who had a cat sterilized during clinics held in 2009.
RESULTS Most cats had never been seen by a veterinarian previously; “too expensive” was the most common reason for this. Total annual household income was significantly associated with the number of times the cat had been examined by a veterinarian and reason why the cat had not been spayed or neutered previously. Most cats were acquired through informal means and without actively being sought, and there was often a time lag between acquisition and sterilization. Undesirable behavior and avoiding pregnancy were primary motivations for neutering and spaying, respectively. Nearly half of owners who indicated they would have had their cat sterilized through a private veterinarian if the clinic had not been available stated that the surgery would have been delayed because of cost.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings suggested that spay-neuter decisions were related to owner income and procedure cost, that elimination of the reduced-cost spay-neuter program would likely have exacerbated the spay-delay problem, and that gradations of financial need should be considered when evaluating relationships between income and spay-neuter decisions.
Dog breed identification is deeply rooted in veterinary practice. Practice management programs, diagnostic service request forms, and government forms, including health certificates and rabies certificates, all require information on dog breed. Owners may ask for assistance in identifying the breed of newly acquired dogs, and veterinarians frequently use information regarding dog breed to assess the risk that dogs will develop various breed-specific medical problems. However, the utility of breed identification in veterinary practice may not be clear for mixed-breed dogs, particularly when parentage is unknown and must be guessed at on the basis of appearance.
According to recent estimates, approximately 72 million dogs live in the United States, with 37% of all US households, or approximately 43 million homes, owning at least 1 dog.1 Exposure to dogs, therefore, is almost ubiquitous in today's society. Not surprisingly, dog bites are relatively common in the United States, with 157 of 9,672 adults participating in a national, random-digit-dial survey reporting having been bitten by a dog.2 Dog bite-related fatalities, however, appear to be extremely rare, occurring at a rate of approximately 27/y from 1999 through 2006 in a human population of just below 300
Objective—To assess differences in strength of the human-animal bond between Hispanic and non-Hispanic owners and determine whether these variations were associated with differences in medical care for pets.
Sample Population—419 pet owners presenting a dog or cat for veterinary services at private veterinary clinics in Aurora, Colo; Chula Vista, Calif; and Mexico City.
Procedures—Owner and pet demographic information was obtained via open-ended interview questions. The human-animal bond was assessed through the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. Pet health data were obtained from medical records for the specific visit observed, and a body condition score was assigned.
Results—Hispanics were more likely to own sexually intact dogs and cats as pets than were individuals of other race-ethnicity groups. Overall, owners were most likely to classify their pets as providing companionship. When data for the 2 US locations were examined separately, no significant difference existed between how non-Hispanic White and Hispanic owners viewed their pets, and scores for the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale did not differ significantly among race-ethnicity groups.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—There was a strong human-animal bond among Hispanic respondents, and Hispanic pet owners in the United States and Mexico verbalized this attachment in similar ways to non-Hispanic White owners. There was no observed association between owner race-ethnicity and strength of the human-animal bond for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White pet owners in the United States. Thus, other factors must be considered to explain the observed difference in percentages of neutered animals between groups.
Objective—To determine perceptions of the human-animal bond (HAB) among veterinarians in private practice and evaluate how these veterinarians incorporate the HAB in their practices.
Sample Population—1,602 veterinarians in private practice in Washington state.
Procedure—Participants were contacted and asked to complete a survey.
Results—Response rate was 26% (415/1,602). Most respondents agreed that veterinarians will be more successful if they recognize and facilitate the HAB, that facilitating the HAB was important to their practices, that they actively evaluated the degree of bonding between clients and their animals, and that the bonding between a client and his or her animal affected the way they practiced medicine. However, > 50% of respondents did not train veterinary technicians and front office staff members in the HAB or encourage veterinary technicians or front office staff members to learn about the HAB. Fifty-one percent of respondents offered few or no HAB resources to clients. When asked to quantify the importance of 10 nontechnical skills associated with private veterinary practice, respondents ranked communication skills, ethical reasoning, and business management first, second, and third; the HAB was ranked fifth.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that for veterinarians in private practice in Washington state, there is a dichotomy between how important they consider the HAB to be in their practice and the degree to which they facilitate the HAB with regard to communication, training, and client resources. More research on the HAB is necessary to better understand what the HAB encompasses and its implications for private practitioners.
Objective—To determine the effects of a therapeutic riding program on psychosocial measurements among children considered at risk for poor performance or failure in school or life and among children in special education programs.
Population—17 at-risk children (6 boys and 11 girls) and 14 special education children (7 boys and 7 girls).
Procedure—For the at-risk children, anger, anxiety, perceived self-competence, and physical coordination were assessed. For the special education children, anger and cheerfulness were measured, and the children's and their mothers' perceptions of the children's behavior were assessed. Measurements were made before and after an 8-session therapeutic riding program.
Results—For boys enrolled in the special education program, anger was significantly decreased after completion of the riding program. The boys' mothers also perceived significant improvements in their children's behavior after completion of the program.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that an 8-session therapeutic riding program can significantly decrease anger in adolescent boys in a special education program and positively affect their mothers' perception of the boys' behavior.
Objective—To determine whether therapeutic riding resulted in higher levels of stress or frustration for horses than did recreational riding and whether therapeutic riding with at-risk individuals was more stressful for the horses than was therapeutic riding with individuals with physical or emotional handicaps.
Animals—14 horses in a therapeutic riding program.
Procedure—An ethogram of equine behaviors was created, and horses were observed while ridden by 5 groups of riders (recreational riders, physically handicapped riders, psychologically handicapped riders, atrisk children, and special education children). Number of stress-related behaviors (ears pinned back, head raised, head turned, head tossed, head shaken, head down, and defecation) was compared among groups.
Results—No significant differences in mean number of stress-related behaviors were found when horses were ridden by recreational riders, physically handicapped riders, psychologically handicapped riders, or special education children. However, mean number of stress-related behaviors was significantly higher when horses were ridden by the at-risk children.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that for horses in a therapeutic riding program, being ridden by physically or psychologically handicapped individuals is no more stressful for the horses than is being ridden in the same setting by recreational riders. However, at-risk children caused more stress to the horses, suggesting that the time horses are ridden by at-risk children should be limited both daily and weekly.
Objective—To determine whether winning best in
show at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog
Show was associated with a subsequent increase in
Design—Analysis of archival data.
Study population—Breed-specific numbers of individual
purebred puppies registered with the American
Kennel Club between 1946 and 2002.
Procedure—For breeds that had won the
Westminster Show, the slope of the curve for number
of new registrations per year for the 5 years prior to
winning was compared with the slope of the curve for
the 5 years after winning. In addition, the annual percentage
change in number of new registrations for
the breed that won each year was compared with the
annual percentage change in number of new registrations
for the nonwinning breed most similar in popularity
to the winning breed.
Results—For breeds that had won the Westminster
Show, the slope of the curve for number of new registrations
per year for the 5 years prior to winning was
not significantly different from the slope of the curve
for the 5 years after winning. Annual percentage
change in number of new registrations for the breed
that won each year was not significantly different
from annual percentage change in number of new
registrations for matched nonwinning breeds.
Conclusions—Results do not support the view that
being named best in show at the annual Westminster
Show results in a surge in popularity of winning
breeds. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:365–367)
Objective—To identify factors influencing satisfaction
with procedures for small animal euthanasia and to
compare the relative importance of those factors
among clients, staff, and students at a veterinary teaching
Procedure—Participants were asked to complete a
survey that was designed to assess satisfaction with
various aspects of the euthanasia procedure.
Results—Overall response rate was 48% (151/313).
Respondents most strongly agreed with the statements
that clients should have the option to be present,
that having a private place was important, and
that employees should be trained to attend to the
emotional needs of the client. When asked to place
factors in order of importance, those that were
ranked the highest included compassionate and caring
attitudes of the hospital employees, the option for
the client to be present during the euthanasia, and
the client being informed and well prepared.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Overall, all
groups (nonclinical staff, clinical staff, veterinary technicians,
veterinary students, and clients) identified the
same factors as being important in the euthanasia of a
pet. Results may help facilitate healthy euthanasia experiences.
(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1774–1779)