Gunter, L. M., Blade, E. M., Gilchrist, R. J. et al. 2023. The influence of brief outing and temporary fostering programs on shelter dog welfare. Animals 13(22), 3528.

Human interaction is one of the most consistently effective interventions that can improve the welfare of shelter-living dogs. Time out of the kennel with a person has been shown to reduce physiological measures of stress as can leaving the shelter for a night or more in a foster home. In this study, we assessed the effects of brief outings and temporary fostering stays on dogs’ length of stay and outcomes. In total, we analyzed data of 1955 dogs from 51 animal shelters that received these interventions as well as 25,946 dogs residing at these shelters that served as our controls. We found that brief outings and temporary fostering stays increased dogs’ likelihood of adoption by 5.0 and 14.3 times, respectively. While their lengths of stay were longer in comparison to control dogs, this difference was present prior to the intervention. Additionally, we found that these programs were more successful when greater percentages of community members (as compared to volunteers and staff) were involved in caregiving as well as when programs were implemented by better-resourced shelters. As such, animal welfare organizations should consider implementing these fostering programs as evidence-based best practices that can positively impact the outcomes of shelter dogs.

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