Interesting nuggets from the ISAZ 2015 conference

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) in Saratoga Springs, NY, which showcased academic research on various aspects of human-animal interaction around the world. The conference was sponsored by Mars/WALTHAM, Purina, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), and Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. Noteworthy takeaways from studies presented at the conference included the following:

  • Dogs whose owners train with physical punishment tend to behave poorly, while those whose owners use rewards tend to behave well. (John Bradshaw, University of Bristol)
  • Female equestrians feel their own physical capabilities expand when on horseback, and as a result of riding, their confidence grows in other areas of their lives. (Keri Brandt, Fort Lewis College)
  • Animal investigators are often the first responders in violent-crime cases because suffering animals are more conspicuous than people who are in trouble. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • In the U.S., more homes have pets than children, and more money is spent annually on pet food than on baby food. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • Children in the U.S. are more likely to grow up with a pet than with a father who lives at home. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • Animal-related words emerge soonest in toddlers’ vocabulary after parent-related words. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • 71% of women in domestic violence shelters reported that their abusers either harmed or threatened to harm a pet as a way to control them. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • Past history of animal abuse is one of the four biggest risk factors for violent criminal behavior toward other people. (Phil Arkow, National Link Coalition)
  • Stochastic modeling can be used to predict performance and animal welfare in animal shelters. (Roger Haston, Animal Assistance Foundation)
  • As Live Release Rate increases at a given animal shelter, that shelter’s intake capacity can decrease. As the shelter’s intake capacity decreases, over time its population becomes dominated by those animals that are hardest to place. (Roger Haston, Animal Assistance Foundation)
  • Live Release Rate for an individual animal shelter can be misleading when used in isolation, without also looking at typical length of stay for its animals and outcomes for animals at other shelters in the same community. (Roger Haston, Animal Assistance Foundation)
  • A full one-third of animal shelters sampled did not have a written policy documenting criteria for euthanasia decisions, half indicated that medically based euthanasia decisions are not made by veterinary professionals, and 83% indicated that behavior-based euthanasia decisions are not made by animal behavior professionals. (M. K. Workman, Canisius College)
  • On Petfinder.com, the older the cat, the fewer clicks s/he received and the longer the time preceding his/her adoption. Black cats also received significantly fewer clicks than their counterparts of other coat colors. However, a mitigating factor that helped these typically less popular cats to receive more clicks was the strategic placement of toys in their photos. (M. K. Workman, Canisius College)
  • Ethiopia has more working equines — 7 million — than any other country; approximately 3 million are horses and the rest are donkeys and mules. (Stephen Albone, Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

Fascinating food for thought!

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