Problem of homeless cats the focus of first Research Day

Published on April 17, 2013
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This fall, the National Council on Pet Population and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators will host Research Day, a scientific symposium on improving the lives of millions of homeless cats in North America.

The event, “CATS, the Ins and Outs: Improving their Future through Research,” is Nov. 9 and being held in conjunction with the SAWA Annual Conference in Tempe, Ariz.

“Our goals are to bring together both researchers and animal welfare and control professionals, to offer a safe place for open dialogue, to translate the analyzed data outcomes so that they can be used to improve or create shelter programs, and to offer effective alternatives to continue on the path to save more lives,” said Pamela Burns, chair of the NCPP board of directors.

The NCPP had been the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy until 2010, when it was reorganized and made a subsidiary of the SAWA. Leaders of the NCPP and SAWA recognized that both organizations would benefit from their new relationship, according to SAWA President and CEO Maurine Dyer Stevens.

“Both the NCPP and SAWA boards of directors were dedicated to the continuation of the council’s work and believed the acquisition by SAWA would help fulfill the NCPP mission,” Stevens said. “SAWA saw great value in collaboration between veterinary medical and other scientific professions and animal welfare and control professionals, allowing and encouraging more interaction between these two groups for the long-term goal of saving more lives.”

The mission of the NCPP is to facilitate the collection, evaluation, and communication of reliable information to promote positive human-animal interactions and reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs.

The reasons cats and dogs are relinquished to animal shelters or euthanized are complex, and a small body of research has identified reasons for each. Burns says there’s still much more to learn, however. “We have some understanding of factors that lead to relinquishment to shelters, but there are important data gaps, especially regarding interventions that work and need to be duplicated nationally,” she said.

The NCPP is taking an evidence-based approach to finding solutions to some of the most pressing problems concerning homeless pets, starting with the first Research Day. Intended to be an annual event, the symposium is designed to educate professionals and stakeholders working with homeless cats and dogs.

“Much useful information exists in the peer-reviewed literature, but those who can use it best to solve problems do not have the access or time to retrieve and use this information,” said Dr. John New Jr.,  a member of the NCPP board.

“At least one role the NCPP is trying to play is to act as a translator between science and the animal welfare and control community.”

Learn more about Research Day by visiting the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators website