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M.S. in Animals and Public Policy Externship Experience (MAPP)

July-August 2017

Animal Rescue League of Boston: Pets Need Assessment in Codman Square Click link for Externship Presentation
Mara Walton
Pet surrender is a complex issue and is often the result of contributing factors at the individual animal, family, and community levels. Animal Rescue League of Boston identified Codman Square in Dorchester, Massachusetts as an area with extraordinarily high pet surrender rates. This project sought to more deeply explore what resources would be most beneficial to the community with the ultimate goal of promoting pet retention. Data were analyzed from a questionnaire completed by 149 participants with a total of 266 pets.
Long time members of the Codman Square community are aware of how the neighborhood has changed to become less pet friendly over time and find it frustrating. Importantly, they do see potential for positive change.
Based on the study findings, it is recommended that resources are focused on cats and dogs. Given that aspects of daily care, behavior and training, and paying for veterinary care were by far the most frequent major challenges to pet ownership, interventions should focus on these aspects. In particular, providing pet owners with behavioral help and information about their pets. Additionally, having a local low cost or free veterinary clinic in Codman Square could drastically improve animal welfare and retention. Lack of information about common cat and dog behavior and care is common, as is misinformation. However, residents are interested in learning more about their pets specifically. Keeping interventions focused on a resident’s own pet, as opposed to animal welfare in general, would likely promote utilization and increase effectiveness.
Understanding what resources in a community can help pets and people stay together, prevents shelter euthanasia, preserves the human-animal bond, and promotes social capital and cohesion.

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