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Using a Canine Companion Training Curriculum to Reduce Return Rates in a No-Kill Animal Shelter Environment Lisa R. McCluskey, Alexandra Tellier, Elizabeth.

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Presentation on theme: "Using a Canine Companion Training Curriculum to Reduce Return Rates in a No-Kill Animal Shelter Environment Lisa R. McCluskey, Alexandra Tellier, Elizabeth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using a Canine Companion Training Curriculum to Reduce Return Rates in a No-Kill Animal Shelter Environment Lisa R. McCluskey, Alexandra Tellier, Elizabeth L. Fay, Jeffrey J. Klunk and Kevin Small

2 Introduction The original idea for this work was attending Sue Sternberg’s 2011 APDT talk regarding dog trainers volunteering in shelters The original idea for this work was attending Sue Sternberg’s 2011 APDT talk regarding dog trainers volunteering in shelters Wanted to quantify the effect of instituting a training program at a shelter (and hopefully influence facility policies/culture) Wanted to quantify the effect of instituting a training program at a shelter (and hopefully influence facility policies/culture) One important goal of animal shelters is reducing the return rates – both for tangible (e.g., space) and intangible (e.g., heart warming stories, community philanthropy) reasons One important goal of animal shelters is reducing the return rates – both for tangible (e.g., space) and intangible (e.g., heart warming stories, community philanthropy) reasons Preventing returns is particularly pertinent in no-kill shelter environments as space tends to be highly constrained Preventing returns is particularly pertinent in no-kill shelter environments as space tends to be highly constrained

3 Specific Aims The aim of this study is to measure the association between dog training and return rates in a no-kill shelter The aim of this study is to measure the association between dog training and return rates in a no-kill shelter Odds Ratio – What are the odds of a successfully adopted dog having received training relative to the odds of a returned dog having received training? Odds Ratio – What are the odds of a successfully adopted dog having received training relative to the odds of a returned dog having received training? Risk Ratio – What is the probability that a dog receiving no training will be returned relative to a dog that has received training? Risk Ratio – What is the probability that a dog receiving no training will be returned relative to a dog that has received training? Survival Function – How long would you expect a dog from a specific population to stay adopted? Survival Function – How long would you expect a dog from a specific population to stay adopted? Proportional Hazards Ratio – How long would you expect a dog with a specific property value (e.g., breed) to remain adopted relative to other dogs with a different value for that property? Proportional Hazards Ratio – How long would you expect a dog with a specific property value (e.g., breed) to remain adopted relative to other dogs with a different value for that property?

4 Study Parameters Population – Dogs admitted to WARL before 7/31/12 and adopted between the dates of 10/26/11 and 7/31/12 Population – Dogs admitted to WARL before 7/31/12 and adopted between the dates of 10/26/11 and 7/31/12 Exposure – Dog training; did the dog attend at least one training class before or after it was adopted? Exposure – Dog training; did the dog attend at least one training class before or after it was adopted? Control – Dogs that received no training from the program Control – Dogs that received no training from the program Outcome – Did the dog get returned or not? Outcome – Did the dog get returned or not? Censored Data – Any dog with an unknown intake date, adoption date, gender, intake type, intake age, or breed was excluded from the study (missing at random). Censored Data – Any dog with an unknown intake date, adoption date, gender, intake type, intake age, or breed was excluded from the study (missing at random).

5 Worcester Animal Rescue League (WARL) 100 year-old 100 year-old No-kill No-kill Non-profit Non-profit 88% of intake are strays 88% of intake are strays Wards at WARL Adoption Pavilion Boarding for the Public City Pound Boarding also used for “emergency” housing PetPoint Animal Management System (software) Animal Rescue League of Boston Behavioral Assessment

6 Canine Companion Training Curriculum (CCTC) Credentialed dog training and behavior specialist Credentialed dog training and behavior specialist Two free, one hour sessions per week Two free, one hour sessions per week Group training, on-site, drop-in Group training, on-site, drop-in Canine Training Curriculum: Canine Training Curriculum: Basic Manners Basic Manners Intermediate Tricks Intermediate Tricks Rally Working Trials (RWT) Rally Working Trials (RWT) AKC CGC Skills AKC CGC Skills

7 Training Class Practice Session

8 Population Breed Characteristics WARL classes tend to attract larger dogs; particularly bully and guarding breeds WARL classes tend to attract larger dogs; particularly bully and guarding breeds Breed Family Examples Bully/GuardingAmer. Bulldog/Pit Bull Terrier RattersDachshund, Rat Terrier TerriersCairn, Schnauzer, Scottie Sm. Hunt/Retrieve Cocker Spaniel, Mini Poodle Sm. CompanionBichon, Boston Terrier, Pug HerdingSheltie, Corgi, Border Collie Ancient SpitzSamoyed, Husky, Shiba Inu ScenthoundsBeagle, Bassett, Coonhound Lg. Hunt/RetrieveLabrador, Golden, Pointer SighthoundsGreyhound, Whippet, Afghan Large WorkingRottweiler, Doberman, GSD

9 Age/Gender Characteristics Very little difference in age of dogs (at intake) between dogs that {attended, didn’t attend} classes; shelter tends to take in adult dogs Very little difference in age of dogs (at intake) between dogs that {attended, didn’t attend} classes; shelter tends to take in adult dogs Classes tend to skew toward male dogs; shelter is near 50/50 overall Classes tend to skew toward male dogs; shelter is near 50/50 overall

10 (Nested) Case-Control Study Cases are dogs that have been returned Cases are dogs that have been returned Controls are dogs that have not been returned Controls are dogs that have not been returned Returned dogs are 3.17 times less likely to have attended training Returned dogs are 3.17 times less likely to have attended training Dogs that have attended training are 2.63 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home Dogs that have attended training are 2.63 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home ReturnedNot ReturnedOdds RatioRisk Ratio Training No Training19168

11 Matching by Breed Cases are dogs that have been returned Cases are dogs that have been returned Controls are dogs of same breed as cases, but have not been returned Controls are dogs of same breed as cases, but have not been returned Returned dogs are 2.81 times less likely to have attended training than a dog of the same breed Returned dogs are 2.81 times less likely to have attended training than a dog of the same breed Dogs that have attended training are 2.40 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home than a untrained dog of the same breed Dogs that have attended training are 2.40 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home than a untrained dog of the same breed ReturnedNot ReturnedOdds RatioRisk Ratio Training No Training19162

12 Case-Cohort Study Cases are dogs that have been returned Cases are dogs that have been returned Controls are dogs that have not been returned who were adopted within one week of a corresponding case Controls are dogs that have not been returned who were adopted within one week of a corresponding case Returned dogs are 3.36 times less likely to have attended training than untrained dogs adopted at the same time Returned dogs are 3.36 times less likely to have attended training than untrained dogs adopted at the same time Dogs that have attended training are 2.69 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home than an untrained dog adopted at the same time Dogs that have attended training are 2.69 times more likely to stay in their adoptive home than an untrained dog adopted at the same time ReturnedNot ReturnedOdds RatioRisk Ratio Training No Training19116

13 Survival Analysis (Kaplan/Meier) What is the probability that a dog remains adopted for a specified number of days? What is the probability that a dog remains adopted for a specified number of days? Weibull estimate for right- censored data

14 Cox Proportional Hazards Regression Explores the relationship between time in adoptive home and several explanatory variables simultaneously Explores the relationship between time in adoptive home and several explanatory variables simultaneously A hazard function is the probability that an individual will experience an specified event (e.g. being returned) within a small interval of time A hazard function is the probability that an individual will experience an specified event (e.g. being returned) within a small interval of time Note that we are not estimating the baseline hazard function, but the increase in hazard by possessing specific properties Note that we are not estimating the baseline hazard function, but the increase in hazard by possessing specific properties For our study, baseline hazard is for an untrained, female, adult (at admission), bully/guarding dog For our study, baseline hazard is for an untrained, female, adult (at admission), bully/guarding dog

15 Cox Model Results Baseline is untrained, adult, bully/guarding, female dog Baseline is untrained, adult, bully/guarding, female dog Dogs who receive training are 3.11 times less likely to be returned for a given time period Dogs who receive training are 3.11 times less likely to be returned for a given time period CovariateCoefficientexp(-Coef)p-Value Received Training < Age = Juvenile > 0.1 Age = Unweaned < Age = Young Adult > 0.1 Gender = Male > 0.1

16 Cox Model Results Baseline is untrained, adult, bully/guarding, female dog Baseline is untrained, adult, bully/guarding, female dog Covariate BreedCoefficientexp(-Coef)p-Value Ratter < 0.05 Terrier > 0.1 Sm. Hunt/Retrieve > 0.1 Sm. Companion > 0.1 Herding > 0.1 Ancient Spitz > 0.1 Scenthounds < 0.01 Lg. Hunt/Retrieve < Lg. Working > 0.1

17 Other Potential Covariates Dog Characteristics Dog Characteristics Jurisdiction of Origin Jurisdiction of Origin Altered before Intake Altered before Intake Reason for Surrender Reason for Surrender Adopter Demographics Adopter Demographics Gender of Primary Caretaker Gender of Primary Caretaker Family Structure (e.g., children, elderly) Family Structure (e.g., children, elderly) Neighborhood of Residence Neighborhood of Residence Need more “dog” data to explore variables further Need more “dog” data to explore variables further

18 Quantifying the Effect

19 Conclusions We provide preliminary, but strong evidence that a canine companion training curriculum (CCTC) can significantly reduce the adoption return rate in a shelter We provide preliminary, but strong evidence that a canine companion training curriculum (CCTC) can significantly reduce the adoption return rate in a shelter The recurring theme seems to be trained dogs are three times less likely to be returned than untrained dogs The recurring theme seems to be trained dogs are three times less likely to be returned than untrained dogs There are also important intangible (for the time being) benefits including increased community involvement and volunteer enthusiasm There are also important intangible (for the time being) benefits including increased community involvement and volunteer enthusiasm

20 Future Work With more data and longer follow-up, a cohort study framework might be more conclusive (in progress) With more data and longer follow-up, a cohort study framework might be more conclusive (in progress) Also, confounders could be better managed if we had more data Also, confounders could be better managed if we had more data A standard “one-number” definition of outcome success should be defined (e.g., 5-year survival for cancer) A standard “one-number” definition of outcome success should be defined (e.g., 5-year survival for cancer) The same methodology could be applied to euthanasia rates and adoption rates with sufficient data The same methodology could be applied to euthanasia rates and adoption rates with sufficient data We would like to perform a multi-center study (please contact us if you have PetPoint data you would like to share!) We would like to perform a multi-center study (please contact us if you have PetPoint data you would like to share!)

21 Final Words Volunteer in your local shelter! Volunteer in your local shelter! The dogs need you… The dogs need you… …and they will make you an even better administrator …and they will make you an even better administrator Discuss with local dog training professionals how an on-site shelter program will likely reduce return rates and keep dogs in their adoptive homes longer. Discuss with local dog training professionals how an on-site shelter program will likely reduce return rates and keep dogs in their adoptive homes longer.

22 Thank You!


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