Trying to find all relinquished and stray companion animals a home is a challenge for animal shelters. Although many animals brought to shelters are healthy and sociable, a certain number of animals may arrive at shelters with major health or behavioral issues, which may hinder their adoption. The purpose of the study reported here was to determine what types of behavioral or medical issues owners would be willing to address and treat and how companion animal veterinarians would classify various diseases or behavioral issues according to what they thought most clients would consider to be healthy, treatable, manageable, and unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable). These health status categories were developed in August 2004 at the Asilomar Accords, a meeting of animal shelter and community professionals, with the goal of decreasing the rate of euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals.1 The health status nomenclature developed represents the only current, accepted standardization of health data collection and reporting across animal shelters. Our objective was to provide insight into the attitudes of companion animal owners toward medical and behavioral issues and the level of commitment they are willing to put forth to resolve these issues. These data would help animal shelters to determine at animal intake which less-than-healthy or behavior-deficient animals are the best candidates for medical or behavioral intervention strategies and placement via adoption.
Copies of the survey are available from the corresponding author upon request.
Survey Sampling International, Shelton, Conn.
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Definitions used in a survey asking small and mixed animal veterinarians in Des Moines, Iowa, to rank medical or behavioral diseases or conditions on the basis of what they thought most clients would consider to be healthy, treatable, manageable, and unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable).
|Healthy||No signs of disease or any behavioral problems|
|Treatable||Not currently healthy but likely to become so if given medical or behavioral care|
|Manageable||Not currently healthy and not likely to become healthy even with treatment, but would maintain a satisfactory quality of life if given appropriate care|
|Unhealthy||Dangerous or intractable behavior issues or medical problems that cannot be managed or resolved with treatment|
(Adapted from the Asilomar Accords. Available at: www.asilomaraccords.org/2004-accords5.pdf. Accessed Aug 20, 2012.)