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Charlottesville-area homeowners sought for shelter dog study

veterinarian dog
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The Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare Lab in the Virginia Tech Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences is partnering with the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA to examine the effects of foster care on the welfare and behavior of dogs in shelters. The CASPCA is just one of two shelters in the country to participate in this important research.

The study will measure the cortisol and activity levels of dogs at shelter, prior to and following a weeklong stay in a foster home and collects behavioral information gathered by foster caregivers as well as those from adopters once the dogs are in their new homes. Faculty and students with the Virginia Tech Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare Lab will arrive in Charlottesville at the end of November to prepare for the research project.

“We considered a variety of shelters to potentially work with, and CASPCA stood out as a really great partner because they are such a progressive animal shelter with a larger and successful foster program,” said Erica Feuerbacher, associate professor of Animal and Poultry Sciences and head of the Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare Lab.

To assist in this study, the shelter is seeking foster care for approximately 50 dogs. Caretakers will need to commit to sheltering a dog for a seven-day period, from either Dec. 5-12 or Jan. 15-22. The ideal foster home is free of other pets, or, homeowners can keep the dog separate from other pets. Behavior support, crates, and supplies will be provided.

Individuals interested in participating can contact the CASPCA at or fill out this form.