Target: President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle
Goal: End the use of unreliable temperament tests that result in the euthanization of shelter pets
Friendly dogs in shelters across the nation are euthanized every year because they fail to pass a scientifically unreliable temperament test. The test, called the Behavioural Assessment for Re-Homing K9’s (B.A.R.K.), aims to re-home only the animals deemed safe as companions. This assessment has recently been supposed invalid – it is time to implement a new measure. Demand a new test that better determines which animals will be suitable as companion pets.
The test, which is made up of 12 subtests, imitates daily situations a pet may face in order to determine how the he will react in a home environment. Unfortunately, a recent study that will soon be published in Applied Animal Behavior Science claims that the assessment has not even undergone scientific evaluation to determine the effectiveness of predicting pet behavior, thus making it an entirely futile measure. The only two statistically significant traits in the test include fear and friendliness, but these traits alone are not sufficient to determine a dog’s temperament.
If a dog fails the remaining subtests, all of which are not statistically significant, he may be put down.
Though the aim of the test may be honest, no animal can be simplified in this manner, therefore temperament must be measured in a more complex way. Animals should be retested if they fail the first time, measured with statistically reliable traits, and should be tested over a longer period of time, in different environments, and with different testers. Oftentimes, an animal becomes stressed and scared from too much change. New surroundings, new kennel-mates, and even new food can lead to negative changes in behavior that may be picked up by an unreliable temperament test.
If well-known organizations, such as the HSUS, decided to protest against these insufficient testing methods, then it may be possible to enact change. This could save thousands of animals every year.
Urge Wayne Pacelle, the President and CEO of the HSUS, to object to these testing methods and fight to implement reliable measures that will adequately predict a dog’s behavior after adoption.
Dear President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle,
A recent study that will soon be published in Applied Animal Behavior Science has suggested that temperament tests used in animal shelters are scientifically unreliable means of determining a dog’s behavior after adoption. The test has not been scientifically evaluated, and only two small traits are statistically significant, highlighting a large-scale problem: friendly dogs are put down every year.
With your support for this cause, it is possible to implement new standards in the future that better measure pet temperament and therefore accurately place friendly animals into loving homes. It is time that shelters stop euthanizing companion animals because they fail an unreliable test. I urge you to protest for a new scientifically valid measure that will more accurately predict a dog’s suitability for adoption.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: rbennett661 via Wikimedia Commons