Department of Animal Protection Welfare and Behaviour, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
Even if dogs admitted to no-kill shelters are not in immediate danger of being killed, those that are not adopted may meet their ultimate fate there eventually.
The aim of this study was to analyze the records on dogs impounded at a Czech municipal shelter in the period from 2007 to 2016.
The results were analyzed using the statistical package Unistat 5.6. Statistical comparisons between frequencies of the categorical variables of interest were performed with the chi-square test within the contingency table procedures.
Over 90% of shelter dogs were adopted, whereas death was the ultimate outcome for only 6.4% (2.9% died and 3.5% had to be euthanized for health reasons). Significantly (p<0.01) more males than females died or were euthanized at the shelter. Different age categories of dogs differed (p<0.001) in terms of euthanasia and death rates. Unassisted death was most common in dogs younger than six months (44% of all deaths at the shelter) and was preceded by a short stay at the shelter. The major reasons for the unassisted death of dogs at the shelter were gastrointestinal diseases (42%), in particular infections. Sixty percent (60%) of euthanasia was performed on senior dogs (aged 9 years and more) after prolonged care provided at the shelter. The most common reason for euthanasia in shelter dogs was multisystem organ failure (31%).
Despite the shelter context being different from that at breeding kennels, our results suggest that mortality and euthanasia rates in shelter dogs can be reasonably low.