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Title: The demographics and epidemiology of pet ownership and canine relinquishment
Author: Gregory, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0001 3518 1313
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2000
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Research was undertaken to investigate the demographics of the pet population in a local community. A sample of the general dog population and owners was then compared with a sample of relinquished dogs and their surrendering owners, to identify dog and household characteristics associated with canine relinquishment to an animal welfare centre (AWC). The investigation was carried out in Strathclyde Region, Scotland. A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted to establish the pet owning status of a randomly selected sample of households. The dog and cat populations were then estimated by extrapolation of results to local census data. Using an area based approach, the association between deprivation, community setting and pet ownership were assessed using available census data. A Geographical Information System approach was applied to the data to display the spatial distribution of pet ownership in Strathclyde Region. Dog owning households identified by the telephone survey were invited to participate in a second study. This case-control study compared information regarding dog and household characteristics of these successful owners (controls), with a sample of unsuccessful dog owners and their pets (cases). The control sample was assessed by mailed questionnaire. Case households were selected by AWC staff at the time of relinquishment and data collected using self-administered questionnaires. Results revealed that 36.1% of households were pet owners, with dogs and cats being the most prevalent species owned. The canine population of Strathclyde Region was estimated to be 248,649 and the feline population estimated to be 170,044. These dogs and cats were owned by an estimated 185,589 and 121,235 households, respectively. Deprivation and urban communities were negatively associated with pet ownership. A sample of 360 of the dog owning households agreed to participate in the second study. Based on a response rate of 89.2%, 321 of these households returned usable questionnaires. Comparison of data from these questionnaires with data obtained from 49 case households revealed that several factors were associated with relinquishment. Although certain dog characteristics were identified as important, most of the predisposing characteristics were owner-related. Uneducated, inexperienced dog owners who impulsively acquired their dog for little cost, were more likely to relinquish their pet after a short duration of ownership because of inappropriate care expectations, lack of planning and the dog failing to meet their expectations. Surprisingly, dog behavioural problems were no more prevalent in relinquished animals. These data were entered into a multivariable logistic regression model. Variables retained in the final model associated with relinquishment included ownership of a small mammal pet, no history of previous pet ownership, young dogs, mixed breed dogs, lack of veterinary care, short duration of residence in the present home and absence of a garden. The study identified several risk factors associated with canine relinquishment, many of which could potentially be modified to decrease the numbers of animals abandoned at AWCs. Use of the multivariable logistic regression model could enable the assessment of the likelihood of future relinquishment. In particular, application of the model in AWCs could decrease the number of adopted dogs that are subsequently relinquished.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Livestock ; Pets ; Geography ; Sociology ; Human services ; SF600 Veterinary Medicine