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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2004;7(4):253-66.

The bond that never developed: adoption and relinquishment of dogs in a rescue shelter.

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Institute of Psychology, University of Milan, Italy.


This study carried out a survey in an Italian shelter to analyze adoptions resulting in the rejection of the newly adopted dog. The results of this study show that the number of dogs adopted and returned was stable during the study, that more females than males were adopted, and that males were more likely to be returned. Almost all the dogs were returned because of behavioral problems, and most were more than 6 months of age. Some dogs were returned more than once, with 20% of the people who adopted the same dog at different times reporting the same behavioral problem. Having a house with a yard, a garden, or a terrace appeared to be important for better management of the dog and influenced the length of adoption. Half of the adopters had previous experience as caregiver for a dog; compared to adopters who had no previous experience, however, they returned their companion animal after a shorter period and because of behavioral reasons. Understanding why adopters return their dogs to shelters is an important step toward attempting to minimize relinquishments and, thus, optimize adoptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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