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Survey of Massachusetts Animal Shelter Record-Keeping Practices in 2015

Theresa Vinic (MAPP alumna 2016), Seana Dowling-Guyer (Center for Animals & Public Policy), Joann Lindenmayer (Tufts University, Massachusetts Animal Coalition), Anne Lindsay (Massachusetts Animal Coalition), Richard Panofsky (Massachusetts Animal Coalition), & Emily McCobb (Center for Animals & Public Policy)
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Published: August 8, 2019

DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2019.1646135

Abstract
The animal sheltering industry lacks standardized methods of data collection and analysis. The resulting lack of available data limits our understanding of the homeless animal population. The objective of this study was to better understand record-keeping practices and attitudes toward shelter statistics among Massachusetts shelter and rescue organizations and to identify barriers to data collection and analysis. A survey of 119 participants at Massachusetts sheltering organizations revealed that the animal welfare community held favorable attitudes toward data management and sharing, but desired additional resources and training to manage data more efficiently and effectively. While a large proportion of homeless dogs and cats in Massachusetts are handled by a small number of large organizations, there are also hundreds of smaller shelters, rescues and animal control officers in the system. Public agencies were the least likely to use electronic data-keeping means, and often cited lack of resources as a barrier. These results should prove useful not only in Massachusetts but for other regions hoping to improve data collection practices and for the evaluation of shelter statistics systems nationwide.
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