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Exploratory Study of Adopters’ Concerns Prior to Acquiring Dogs or Cats from Animal Shelters

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Caretaker expectations for companion-animal guardianship can affect attachment to, and satisfaction with, an animal. Understanding these expectations may help match adopters and companion animals, increasing success of adoptions. Seventeen one-on-one interviews were used to gain a deep understanding of the thoughts and expectations of potential cat or dog adopters at three animal shelters in Ontario, Canada. Thematic analysis was conducted until data saturation was achieved (n = 14). Animal behavior was the most common prior concern held by participants, specifically, unknown history, aggression, incompatibility between animals, and shy or aloof, destructive, or vocal behavior. Participants who identified adoption “deal-breakers” often identified specific traits they wanted and did not want in an animal. In contrast, others indicated they would seek out training or advice for problem behaviors. Participants discussed prior human-related concerns less frequently. Understanding pre-adoption concerns at the time of adoption will assist in better preparing individuals for companion-animal guardianship.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphCanada ; 2: Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphCanada


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