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Arizona State University researcher focuses on improving shelter dog lives

(Arizona Humane Society Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — A researcher at Arizona State University studied animal shelters in Arizona to see impacts they have on dogs.

Lisa Gunter, a psychology doctoral candidate at the university, made some important findings that could help the thousands of dogs in Arizona animal shelters.

For example, Gunter found that having a volunteer take the dog home for a day or two significantly reduces cortisone levels, the hormone related to stress, of the animal. 

“Our interpretation of [the results] is that these sleepovers are kind of like a weekend to the work week,” Gunter told ASU Now.

“It doesn’t make all the dogs’ stress go away but it lets them go to a house, take a breather, rest and recharge.”

Gunter also studied physiological responses of the animals while in their kennels.

She found that dogs who howl or paw at the kennel are engaged in higher stress levels than those that are stretching themselves. With this information employees can know when to intervene with the animals.

“I think the aim of sheltering in general is to be doing things that improve the dogs’ well-being or that help them find a home,” Gunter said.

“But a lot of times in shelters, we just don’t know a lot about the dogs. And I think if we know more, we can better help them.”

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