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Showing posts from June, 2013

Are seniors more satisfied with life if they have pets?

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It’s widely assumed that pets add quality to our lives. We hear all the time that they can lower blood pressure, encourage us to get more exercise, and provide comfort if we are sad. There’s some truth to this – but is it always the case? A new study of people aged 65 and over investigates whether pet ownership is linked to higher satisfaction with life.

The study analyzes data from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Healthy Aging conducted by Statistics Canada. The survey collected data from more than 30,000 Canadians aged over 45 in 2008 and 2009. Chelsea Himsworth and Melanie Rock (Universities of BC and Calgary, respectively) looked at the data for those sixty-five or over, to see what effect pet ownership had. In total, 11,973 people had answered the questions that were needed for this study.
The majority of the seniors lived with someone else and most of these were married or co-habiting. Over 90% of them were white, and just over half were female. Over 90% reported having a…

The end for shock collars?

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Something puzzles me about the arguments made by shock collar advocates. On the one hand they claim the e-collar doesn’t hurt, and on the other they say it’s a last resort to prevent ‘dead dogs’ due to recall and chasing problems. Surely the second justification casts doubt on the first? Two new scientific studies funded by the UK’s DEFRA address both arguments, and conclude that e-collars are unnecessary and detrimental to animal welfare.

Shock collars (including invisible fences) are already banned in many countries because of welfare concerns. The DEFRA studies aimed to investigate the welfare of dogs trained using e-collars. The results will surely add to calls for shock collars to be banned in England and Scotland (they have been illegal in Wales since 2010), and elsewhere. 

The first study (Defra AW1402)included extensive pilot work, an investigation of the electrical resistance of wet and dry dogs (conclusion: wet dogs get zapped more), and a comparison of the features of seve…

Homing and Re-homing Fido: How many newly-adopted pets are still kept six months later?

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When people adopt a new pet, why do some of them re-home the pet before six months is up? And how many actually still have the pet in the home? These are the questions asked in a new survey for the American Humane Association, funded by PetSmart.


Every year in the US, 3 to 4 million homeless dogs and cats are euthanized. Understanding how many pets are not kept, and the reasons why, is essential to finding ways to solve the problem of pet overpopulation. The problem is not unique to the US. A sizeable proportion of animals arrive at shelters as owner surrenders (e.g. rabbits (Cook and McCobb, 2012); cats (CFHS, 2013), and there are animal welfare issues, as well as economic costs (Stavisky et al 2012).
The AHA survey is the second phase of a three-part study. The first part investigated barriers to the adoption of dogs and cats, and the next stage will consider possible interventions.
The survey took place in three mid-sized cities that have both an animal control shelter and a privat…

Is attachment to pet dogs linked to their behaviour?

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Some people are more attached to their dogs than others.Recently, we wrote about a study that found that people who relinquished their dog to animal shelters had lower attachment to them than people who were keeping their dog. This week, we discuss a new study by Christy Hoffman et al that asks whether there is a link between a dog’s behaviour and how attached the owner is to the dog.

The study involved a questionnaire that was completed by 60 adults and 92 children from sixty dog-owning families. As far as we know, this is the first study to look at attachment in children as well as their parents. The families completed the questionnaire as part of a wider long-term study of childhood and adolescence. Most of the adults were female (88%), and they ranged in age from 30 to 62. The children were from 11 to 18 years old. On average, families had owned their dog for almost five years.
The dog’s behaviour was rated using a widely-established questionnaire called the C-BARQ. Participants a…