Animal shelters nationwide have been the homes for millions of homeless cats and dogs brought in for various reasons. Sometimes their previous owner could not afford them; other times they are abandoned, even neglected, or abused. These furry friends are looking for a loving family to take them home, but different factors in their environment may influence their chances at being adopted.
Beth Bystrom, second year student in veterinary medicine, is spending her summer doing research on factors that influence cat adoptions in six different shelters in the Midwest.
Her study primarily looks at the influence location has on adoption, such as the probability of being adopted if they come from eye level cages as opposed to lower level or if they are towards the front of the room as opposed to the back.
Bystrom and her mentor, Dr. Claudia Baldwin, shelter medicine professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, theorize location plays a big role in choice of adoption. Both predict cats in eye level cages are more likely to receive more attention and are therefore more readily adoptable.
“For a long time I’ve suspected it’s location,” Baldwin said, noting research on factors that influence adoptions has already been done, but no one has really looked at location as a factor.
Bystrom and Baldwin work together as researcher and mentor for the summer scholars program at Vet Med. This program, Baldwin said, is designed for veterinary students to get a taste of research during the summer. Faculty and students work together on projects that range from standard laboratory work to field work.
“It gives the students an opportunity to really learn much more about something they have interest in,” Baldwin said.
Students are recruited by professors and are then chosen to be part of the summer scholars program. Once chosen, students sit down with their mentor and talk about what issues are important to them. Then they come up with an idea.