The human-companion animal bond can improve the well-being of both people and pets. Unfortunately, access to continued pet companionship may not be equal in all groups of people. Owner-related reasons, such as financial issues, are more common reasons for owner surrender compared to animal-related reasons. Animal shelters are becoming increasingly interested in their role in not only supporting communities but also understanding how animal shelters, themselves, may be creating barriers to pet ownership. This presentation discusses our recent research that analyzes the relationship between human social determinants and animal shelter services in British Columbia, Canada. In the first study, we connected animal shelter data to the Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation (CIMD), derived from census data, and found that increased community-level vulnerability increases risk of surrendering animals of particular species and breeds, for particular reasons, and of particular health statuses. In our second study, we assessed the relationship between the CIMD for animals incoming (through owner surrender) and outgoing (through adoption) from animal shelters across the province and found that certain animals do tend to “flow” from areas of high social vulnerability to low.
This session will provide insight into how animal shelters and community data can provide insight into the demography of clients served through intake and adoption services and possible barriers to pet ownership perpetuated by animal shelters. Finally, this session can help guide animal welfare professionals on ways they can inform the development of community-based initiatives that may help improve adoptions and reduce the intake of animals.