M.S. in Animals and Public Policy
Class of 2015-2016
Effects of Wearing a ThunderShirt on Chronic Stress in Shelter Dogs
There is growing interest in studying shelter dog welfare, specifically how to mitigate the stress of the shelter environment. Human interaction, food enrichment toys, and synthetic dog appeasing pheromones have all been found to reduce some stress-related behaviors and cortisol in shelter-housed dogs. Several studies have found pressure wraps reduce stress-related behaviors and some physiological signs of stress for homed dogs during acutely stressful situations. This study investigated the efficacy of pressure wraps for use in treating chronic stress in shelter dogs. Ten shelter dogs were randomly selected to be in either the treatment group (wearing a ThunderShirt™) or control group. During the treatment phase, dogs wore their shirt for one hour, twice per day for 14 consecutive days. Control group dogs experienced an interaction designed to simulate applying and removing the shirt to coincide with the same hour-long window as the treatment group dogs. Behavior observations and salivary cortisol samples were evaluated at multiple time points pre-, during, and post-treatment to look for differences across the study both within each group as well as between groups. In this small pilot study we found no indication that there is a sustained reduction of stress-related behaviors or cortisol levels after the ThunderShirt™ had been removed Future research should include a larger sample size for more robust results. It may also be beneficial to use a passive control group which does not have increased human contact throughout the study.
Animal Abuse and Human Violence
Animal cruelty is a form of social deviance that affects millions of animals each year and is often entangled in a web of human violence. While current literature has established a link between domestic violence and animal abuse, few studies have explored the animal component in these cases. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine animal investigations from New York City that occurred in 2014-2016, in order to understand both human and animal involvement. Utilizing archival records from the ASPCA, 544 police cases involving 1,272 animals were analyzed. Results showed that more dogs were involved in animal crime than any other species. Additionally, out of 198 cases involving non-accidental injury, 79 (40%) involved a form of human to human conflict. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) was a factor in 40 animal intakes, in which 27 (67.5%) were dogs, 12 (30%) were cats, and 1 (2.5%) was an exotic animal. Dogs involved in IPV were significantly smaller than dogs involved in other non-accidental injury cases, as well as other types of abuse. IPV cases also had a significantly higher animal death rate as compared to cases without IPV.
The State of Accessible Veterinary Medicine in the United States: Identifying Current Models of Care
It is evident that a significant portion of the pet owning public is unable to afford the cost of care. However there is currently minimal research on accessible veterinary care and how populations of people who are impoverished or struggle financially afford veterinary care. We conducted a two-part study on the current state of accessible care: 1) the development of an accessible care program index and 2) a program survey. In the first part of this study, we identified 440 different programs and facilities that offer some sort of accessible care in addition to spay/neuter and vaccination services. In the second part of this study, we surveyed 25 different locations to gather operational and output information on their facilities. Through our findings, we identified six main models which recur throughout the United States: spay/neuter clinics, wellness clinics, limited service facilities, free service facilities, full service veterinary clinics with limited accessible services, and full service veterinary clinics. Each individual program has unique properties but these categorizations are a first step in developing criteria for assessing models of accessible care. Further research is needed on each individual model and the ways that they operate with surrounding veterinary facilities to continue to identify important factors in delivering veterinary care throughout the United States.
Morality and Animals: The Impact of Moral Development on Animal Interests and Attitudes in Adolescents
The goal of this study was to explore if moral developmental stage influences the way youth feel about animals. Information was collected from 35 individuals between the ages of 12 and 13. Each participant completed a moral development assessment, an animal attitudes scale and an animal interests scale. This information was then used to determine if there is a difference in animal interests or attitudes between individuals in different stages of moral development.