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Reducing stress in dogs in shelters
  1. Gillian Diesel, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS
  1. 38 Claverley Green, Luton, Bedfordshire LU2 8TA
  1. e-mail: gilldiesel{at}

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THERE are thousands of dog shelters worldwide, whose aim is to care for stray or unwanted dogs and ensure that as many as possible are rehomed successfully. It has been estimated that between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats are housed annually by shelters in the USA (Humane Society 2009), while a recent survey, commissioned by the Dogs Trust, found that between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, an estimated 126,176 stray dogs were handled by local councils across the UK. This is equivalent to 345 strays being found every day, which represented a 4 per cent increase in the number of dogs handled by local councils compared to the previous year and was the highest figure for the past 11 years (Brickell 2011).

The average amount of time that a dog spends in a rehoming centre varies widely depending on the dog's characteristics and the rehoming centre policies. An Australian study showed that, on average, a dog spent 5.7 days in kennels (Marston and others 2004) while a UK study estimated the median length of stay to be 28 days (Diesel and others 2007). Studies have shown that the time spent in kennels or a rehoming centre can be very stressful for a …

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