How Can I Improve Animal Welfare In Shelters?

Research Portion

Part 1: I’ve always had a passion for animals. When I was younger, I would rescue any animal I could. I’ve taken in baby rabbits, birds, frogs, snakes, lizards, cats, dogs, and many others. I would take on anything that was hurt or lost as my responsibility. This life-long magnetism that I have towards animals has lead me to want to find a career helping them. I’m looking especially at wanting to improve the lives of animals in shelters. I wanted to know every need that an animal living in a shelter would have. This goes far beyond food and water; these animals need love and affection to survive. I want to find ways to improve animal welfare in shelters, which would lead to a happier pet, and more adoptions.

Part 2: Before I started my research I knew three basic needs of animals. I knew that they needed food, water, and exercise. Turned out, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. They do need the three aforementioned needs, but there was more. Obviously they need food and water. The exercise one is very important in my opinion. These animals need to get out of their kennels and stretch their legs. Especially with adult dogs, if they don’t get out of their kennels they act very sporadic and overexcited. This usually leads to it being more difficult for them to be adopted. I needed to know more about the needs of animals in shelters. I wanted to know how toys and blankets (comfort items) made a difference in the animal's welfare. I wanted to know how to improve their lives, not just give them only what they need.  

Part 3: I had to go to many different sources to find detailed information o n animal welfare in shelters. I found the findings from a research project that was published by the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare. This article showed the two author’s findings, they focused on domestic cats in shelters. They had two main experiment groups. The first were cats that lived in empty metal cages; they found that these cats had higher stress levels and were generally unhappy. Cats that were unhappy and had higher stress levels were less likely to be adopted. The second group were cats that had toys, blankets, and places to hide in their cages. These cats had lower stress levels and were more active, they were also more likely to be adopted. They said that “Moreover, the behavioral/emotional characteristics that most people report using to select a cat ie ‘happy’, ‘playful’, were typical of behavior associated with lower Cat-stress-scores” (375). My second source was titled “The Right’s Of Animals” by Henry S. Salt, This was an article published by the International Journal of Ethics. Salt talks about how humans are just higher evolved animals, but animals don’t have right’s like we do. They can’t own property or sue people. He states that it is the human's job to protect animals because they don’t have set rights for themselves. He talks about “the earliest legal prohibition of cruelty to animals; and the protection thus given to cattle and beasts of burden was gradually extended to all animals that the law recognized as domestic” (Salt 212) . My third source was interviewing my mentor, Samantha Threadgill. I asked her questions about animal welfare that were specific to the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. We went over the fundraisers that take place, and how that contributes to animal welfare. She mentioned the enrichment program in the shelter, this provides toys that make the animals stay more comfortable, Things like, “catnip toys and their own blankets.These things helps calm them, they can keep their own blankets and have hide away boxes so they feel secure” (Threadgill). I also learned from Samantha that another essential animal welfare need is veterinary services. The Humane Society has a “ vet  on staff, so [they] are able to provide In house services, except for an X-ray machine. All animals are spayed and neutered.” (Threadgill). I learned a lot to help me answer my essential question through my research process. I learned that animals in shelters need a vet, which I hadn’t thought about. They need vets to provide vaccinations, spaying, neutering, and other services. I also learned that enrichment toys help lower animal stress levels, which help them become more adoptable. Overall, I have learned many new things to help me in my hunt for information.

Part 4:I found out that there are many components to animal welfare in shelters. Before I started my research I only thought about the basic needs of animals. I thought that these were just food, water, and exercise. At the end of my research, I found out that they do need food, water, and exercise, but also enrichment toys and veterinary services. The vet services had totally slipped my mind, but know seems very obvious. Animals need vaccinations and to be treated for illness. They also need to be spayed and/or neutered. The enrichment toys aren’t a necessity, but they improve the lives of animals in shelters, which is what I wanted to find out. They lower the stress levels of the animals and make them more adoptable. The exercise is also very important especially for the grown dogs. They need to get their energy out daily, if not they act very sporadic and over-excited. People tend to not adopt dogs that look crazy in their kennels. The need for volunteers in shelters in immense. The volunteers take the dogs out to get their exercise, so the dogs don’t act too crazy and scare potential adopters away.  This information that I learned will help me in my future job endeavors. I hope that one day I will have a job that focuses on improving animal welfare in shelters. This knowledge that I have gained will be very helpful if I get the job I want helping animals. My main goal is to help improve the animal welfare in shelters, resulting in getting more animals adopted.



Annotated Bibliographies 

Source #1: Gourkow, N., and D. Fraser. "The effect of housing and handling practices on the welfare, behaviour and selection of domestic cats (Felis sylvestris catus) by adopters in an animal shelter." (2006).


The authors are discussing the effects of housing and handling of domestic cats in an animal shelter. They put cats in cages that were empty, those cats had higher stress levels and didn’t get adopted. This led to them being in the shelter longer and they eventually got euthanized. They also put cats in two joined cages with blankets and places to hide and sit on. These cats showed lower stress levels and were adopted faster. They’re showing that the cats need these things in order to be adopted faster.  

Potential Quotes: 

“Problems included anxiety and fear, and various stress-related changes in behavior including aggressive and destructive behavior, hypervigilance causing fatigue, pica (eating inedible things), excessive grooming and vocalizing, self-mutilation, and suppression of feeding, elimination, grooming, exploration, and play.” (371)

“Moreover, the behavioral/emotional characteristics that most people report using to select a cat ie ‘happy’, ‘playful’, were typical of behavior associated with lower Cat-stress-scores.” (375)   


This source is very credible because it was published by the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare. There were two authors, which means that their research was less biased. They also presented their findings in many different ways that were very professional. They had charts and data tables and graphs to show a visual representation of their data. They also documented their findings in the form of writing, they made it very easy to understand what they did to get to their findings.


I can use this to answer my essential question of How can I compose a plan to improve animal welfare in shelters. These authors showed evidence that if you do certain things, the animals stress levels will go down which means they are more comfortable living there.

Source #2:  Salt, Henry S. “The Rights of Animals.” International Journal of Ethics, vol. 10, no. 2, 1900, pp. 206–222.


This source discusses the rights of animals. It looks at many things, like how humans differ from animals, it presents the argument that humans are just more developed animals. It comes to the conclusion that animals don’t have rights in a legal sense. But that we have a duty to ensure them kindness and welfare. They talk about the laws against animal cruelty and other laws.

Potential Quotes: 

“The earliest legal prohibition of cruelty to animals; and the protection thus given to cattle and beasts of burden was gradually extended to all animals that the law recognized as domestic.” (Salt 212)

“ Man is indispensably bound, to bestow upon animals, in return for the benefit he derives from their service, good and sufficient nourishment, comfortable shelter, and merciful treatment; to commit no wanton outrage upon their feelings whilst alive.” (Salt 217).


This source is very credible, because it was published by the international journal of ethics. This means that a world renowned journal, approved Salt’s findings. Many people would have had to look over this article to prove its credibility.


This will be very helpful to me in my research project. Since I’m studying animal welfare in shelters, it’s good to know the basics of animal rights, or whether there are set rights for animals.

 Source #3: Mellor, David J. "Moving Beyond The "Five Freedoms" By Updating The "Five Provisions" And Introducing Aligned "Animal Welfare Aims." Animals (2076-2615) 6.10 (2016): 1. Advanced Placement Source. Web. 9 Nov. 2016.


The author is looking at making changes to the old Five Freedoms Paradigm that was created in 1993/1994. This paradigm shows the freedoms that animals should have and the provisions that should be provided to ensure these freedoms are being given. He wants to create a new Five Provisions/ Animal Welfare Aims Paradigm. This new system shows what should be provided and then what the provided act is minimizing. He believes that this system will be more beneficial and less confusing to people.

Potential Quotes: 

“...An animal’s welfare state depends on the net balance between the significant negative and positive experiences it may have at any one time...” (Mellor 3).

“The Five Provisions/Welfare Aims paradigm presented here retains the memorable simplicity of the original Five Freedoms formulation” (Mellor 5).


This article is credible for a number of reasons. I found it on Galileo, a site to find credible sources. The author is also from the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University. I feel like where he comes from makes him a very knowledgeable source for this paper. He is very credible.


I will use the author’s vast knowledge of animal needs and welfare in my research paper. The basic needs of animals is a necessity in the area of animal welfare. You can’t help them if you don’t know what they need. This information will help me to find more sources related to my research topic.


  1. What are the basic needs of animals in shelters?  

“food water medical care because we have a vet  on staff we are able to provide In house stuff except for X-ray machine. All animals are spayed and neutered. Extras that we get to do because we have an awesome staff like enrichment toys while they're in their kennels. Catnip toys and their own blankets. Helps calm them,  keep their own blankets and have hide away boxes so they feel secure. Volunteers to walk them everyday. 23 hours in kennel depending on volunteers. They get out about one hour a day.”


My response: this is a very good answer, it gives me some insight that I didn't have before I asked her this question. I didn't know that they had a vet on site and this is a very important part of animal welfare.

2. If you had unlimited time and resources how would you improve animal welfare in shelters?

“The resources side, in an ideal world we would have different play rooms, cat condo for cats group play rooms for dogs and cats. Outdoors with indoors runs. Dogs could go outside whenever they wanted. Skylights for cats and dogs. Cats could watch birds etc. Rebuilding dog runs to create group play. Legislative system doesn't allow them to work with animal shelters. Hope to change laws to be able to rescue drop off What are the basic needs of animals in shelters people on spaying and neutering. To help less unwanted dogs and cats. Bigger building in general. More room etc. Home rooms, couches and things to mimic houses when being looked at by potential adopters.”


My response: These ideas are really awesome, they would benefit the animals a lot. I hope that one day there is enough funding to make these ideas become reality.

3. Do you think that being handled everyday makes animals happier and more likely to be adopted?

“yes, volunteers are for socializing, need human interaction. They won't be shocked by people in home if they're used to many kinds and ages of volunteers.”


My response: This is great, because the volunteers are a major part of animal welfare in shelters. If it wasn’t for them coming in and helping to socialize the animals they wouldn't be as likely to get adopted.

4. Do you think that having toys, blankets, and other comforting objects in the animals kennels makes them feel more relaxed and happy?

“yes, we have a robust enrichment program to make then comfortable while they're here.  The kennels aren't comfy so they do their best to make them comfortable.”


My response: The enrichment program was something that I didn't know about. There is this whole program that tries and makes the animal’s surroundings more comfortable. This helps to makes them more adoptable.  

5. How does the volunteer program fit into animal welfare in shelters.

“Expanding the volunteer program. More space is more volunteers, more shifts so that dogs can get out more than once in the day. People have jobs and that makes it harder for them to come in. During the summer they are more available so dogs can be outside more.”


My response: The need for more volunteers is always an issue, some days there are more, and other days there aren’t any. Mondays are a day where there are one to no volunteers. This is a problem because the animals don’t get to go out and play.

6. How many fundraisers do you host a year, and do you think they help to improve animal welfare?

“2 major events, 5k mutt strut,  art with heart. Events are more friendraising, creating more friends of the Humane Society. To keeps friends in the future. Mutt strut you can bring your pets, more of a family outreach program. Humane Society yearly Budget 1.5 million, 1\3 from donations art with heart $100 thousand and Mutt strut $30 thousand. Adoption angel lock in fundraiser, added third biggest fundraiser. Couldn't do what we do without events, we meet people who help give us donations in the long run.”


My response: Fundraisers take a lot of work and help expand their connections. She said that the fundraisers aren’t their main source of income, but mainly help them to branch out and meet new people who will donate in the future.


7.   How much does the store contribute to the Humane Society?


“The store contributes a small portion. It used to bring in much more back when we had a partnership with a business who donated the items we sold, so it was 100% profit. Unfortunately, that business was dissolved so we must purchase the items form a wholesaler making our profit margin substantially less. Although, we love providing items for our customers and their animals!”


My response: The store is very cute and brings people to it when they walk in. The partnership that dissolved is unfortunate because of how much money they were making. This just shows that you have to be ready for anything to happen.


8.  Do you think that older cats and dogs are less likely to be adopted? and why


“Yes, older cats and dogs are typical harder to adopt. Unfortunately, many people want a puppy/kitten or a younger dog/cat so they can train them to their personal liking. Simply put, they want the "fun" years of the animals and most likely want the animal to be a part of their family for the longest time possible. There are those PAWesome people who love adopting/saving the older animals in shelters because they know those animals are the most in need.”  


My response: These people that want to help the older cats and dogs are amazing. It is so heartbreaking to see the older animals be left at the shelter and have to stay there because no one wants an older animal. There are good people in the world though, and they help to rescue these animals.

9. Can the socialization of the older dogs and cats make them more likely to be adoptable?


“Yes, absolutely, but it's not specific to older animals. ALL animals need socialization. Shelters can be a highly stressful place for any animal because they are in a new environment, they don't get to roam freely, there are many other animals around them all the time and many, many more reasons! That is why we focus so heavy on our volunteer and enrichment program for the animals. We 100% could not do what we do without volunteers. I'm sure the 1 or 2 hours they get out of the kennel is something the animals look forward to in a daily basis and that's all because of our PAWesome volunteers and staff.”


My response: The volunteers come back with their contribution to animal welfare by showing that the more they help to socialize the older animals they more likely they are to be adopted. This is amazing and very much appreciated by the Humane Society staff.


10. What is an adoption Angel and explain why this is helpful.


“ Our Adoption Angel program is a chance for someone to sponsor the rescued, homeless animals in our care. These donations help cover a portion of the adoption fee, lowering the fee and, in turn, hopefully increasing their chance to be adopted. Adoption Angels can sponsor any animal they wish, however, HSNEGA respectfully suggests the following animals for sponsorship:

ADULT CATS & DOGS: Adult animals are the hardest to adopt and sometimes need a little  extra help to find their new forever home, especially “senior” animals (age 7+).

LONG TENURED ANIMALS: Kennel life can be stressful for animals and the downside to a selective admission shelter is that animals often stay with us for many months before adoptions, and our “long-timers” would also benefit from extra help finding a life-long home.”

My response: Adoption angels is something that I think is specific to the Humane Society. This is an amazing program that I have personally written thank you notes to people who sponsored these animals and made it possible for them to be adopted.



Emily Jones: Samantha Threadgill, Director of Developments and Communication, Humane Society of Northeast Georgia

There are always animals in shelters.These animals didn’t choose to be in these shelters and they don’t have the means to change their situation. It is up the people who have the means to, to better animal welfare in shelters. People can help by volunteering, or donating money or supplies to their local animal shelters. I have been researching ways to improve animal welfare in shelters, and there are many ways to help. These animals need daily socialization, food, water, exercise, and veterinary services. These things are necessities for the animals in the shelters. There are many other things that can be done to improve daily life. Things like enrichment toys and blankets make the animals happier and help to lower their stress levels. The effect of the happier animals with lower stress levels is that they are more likely to be adopted. This is the whole goal of my research. I want to find ways to improve animal welfare, resulting in more animals being adopted into happy homes.