Behavior assessment tool may help shelter adoptions

Published on June 15, 2007
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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has incorporated a canine aggression assessment tool as part of its popular Meet Your Match adoption program.

The Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming, or SAFER, is one more way of reducing the number of pets returned to shelters because of unwanted behaviors, according to the ASPCA.

The test, a scientifically verified method of assessing aggression and potential for aggression, was developed by Emily Weis, PhD, the ASPCA's senior director of shelter behavior programs.

Animals are presented with a series of stimuli to determine how they behave in each situation. The tests provide shelter staff with valuable information about the animal's temperament, which can then be used to develop behavior modification plans, if necessary.

"Through the use of appropriate tools to help evaluate adoptable animals, we can increase the chances we have of making successful matches with potential adopters," Dr. Weiss said.

The behavior tool is being paired with Meet Your Match, an ASPCA program using various components to better match shelter pets with owners. Shelters using the integrated program are reporting reduced return rates, better customer service, and increased adoptions, according to the ASCPA.