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Trends in intake and outcome data for animal shelters in Colorado, 2000 to 2007

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  • 1 Animal Assistance Foundation, 1805 S Bellaire St, Ste 400, Denver, CO 80222.
  • | 2 Animal Assistance Foundation, 1805 S Bellaire St, Ste 400, Denver, CO 80222.
  • | 3 Animal Assistance Foundation, 1805 S Bellaire St, Ste 400, Denver, CO 80222.

Abstract

Objective—To measure trends in animal shelter intake and outcome data for dogs and cats in Colorado on a statewide, urban, and rural basis from 2000 through 2007.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Sample Population—A group of 104 animal shelters and rescue organizations from Colorado representing 92% and 94% of statewide dog and cat intake, respectively, in 2007.

Procedures—Annual animal shelter data were analyzed for trends by use of linear regression analysis. Trends in urban and rural subgroups of shelters were compared by use of Student t tests.

Results—Statewide, the number of intakes/1,000 residents decreased by 10.8% for dogs during the 8-year study period, but increased by 19.9% for cats. There was no change in the dog euthanasia rate at 3.7/1,000 residents/y, but the rate for cats increased by 35.7% to 3.9/1,000 residents/y. There was no change in the statewide live release rate for dogs or cats, but there was a decrease of 12.6% for cats in the urban subgroup.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The trends suggested that the number of unwanted dogs in Colorado decreased during the study period, whereas the number of unwanted cats in animal shelters increased. There were clear differences in the trends in the urban and rural data, suggesting different needs in each type of community. At the current level of resource allocation, the shelter dynamics for dogs appeared to have reached equilibrium with respect to euthanasia. Transfers were increasingly being used within all regions of the state to optimize the chances of adoption.

Abstract

Objective—To measure trends in animal shelter intake and outcome data for dogs and cats in Colorado on a statewide, urban, and rural basis from 2000 through 2007.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Sample Population—A group of 104 animal shelters and rescue organizations from Colorado representing 92% and 94% of statewide dog and cat intake, respectively, in 2007.

Procedures—Annual animal shelter data were analyzed for trends by use of linear regression analysis. Trends in urban and rural subgroups of shelters were compared by use of Student t tests.

Results—Statewide, the number of intakes/1,000 residents decreased by 10.8% for dogs during the 8-year study period, but increased by 19.9% for cats. There was no change in the dog euthanasia rate at 3.7/1,000 residents/y, but the rate for cats increased by 35.7% to 3.9/1,000 residents/y. There was no change in the statewide live release rate for dogs or cats, but there was a decrease of 12.6% for cats in the urban subgroup.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The trends suggested that the number of unwanted dogs in Colorado decreased during the study period, whereas the number of unwanted cats in animal shelters increased. There were clear differences in the trends in the urban and rural data, suggesting different needs in each type of community. At the current level of resource allocation, the shelter dynamics for dogs appeared to have reached equilibrium with respect to euthanasia. Transfers were increasingly being used within all regions of the state to optimize the chances of adoption.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Animal Assistance Foundation.

The authors thank Kate Anderson from the Colorado Department of Agriculture for providing data. The San Luis Valley GIS/GPS Authority generated the geographic information system map used in the study.

Address correspondence to Mr. Gies (giesd@aaf-fd.org).