by Chris P. Janelli, Executive Director
Spring in Connecticut may have been cold, wet and long in coming, but the months since our Winter Newsletter have flown by like the migratory waterfowl that head north to their breeding grounds still in chilly grip of old Man Winter. As usual, much is happening as we head into summer.
Join me in welcoming Miss Steph Tobin to the CCBS team. Steph started assisting CCBS as an intern and is now focusing primarily on social media and expanding the Center’s online presence in order to increase the number of dogs owners registered as voluntary participants for future studies. Under Dr. Dodman’s guidance, Steph created the CCBS Instagram and will manage also the Center’s Facebook. We hope you will visit Instagram and enjoy some of the humorous—and sometimes serious—postings. Take a few minutes to show us your likes, add comments and share it with your canine friends.
Please join me in thanking Barbara Dwyer for her dedicated support for the Center, especially in the development of the CCBS website and Facebook page. Barbara’s support and dedication to CCBS is much appreciated and she will be missed as she leaves to focus on her canine consulting and commitment to help launch what will be a unique and innovative puppy to adult on-line canine training program.
As reported by Dr. Dodman, the really good news is the publication in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior of the Center’s findings on the demographics of canine behavior problems. The findings paper has been hailed as a pivotal communication by many, and praised by Dr. Kathe Houpt, a noted veterinary behaviorist and Professor Emeritus at Cornell University. According to Dr. Dodman, “Anyone pursuing any studies of canine behavior in the future will probably refer to our demographic study results up front in their publication.”
We believe findings from the follow-up study currently under analysis will allow the Center to inform guardians of dogs that exhibit problem behavior (almost 90 percent of owners, according to the follow-up study!) who best to see, what programs to employ to “get things under control,” and what results to expect over what period of time. The implications for knowing all of this by dog owners and veterinarians will be impactful. As soon as these findings are available, the Center will begin the process of distributing and educating owners, shelters and veterinarians to these findings—a process that is going to require financial support.
Regarding future research, while Drs. Dodman and Greer are in discussions with some organizations to potentially fund further big studies, completing our 3rd“epic” study has been a 5-year long journey that started with the Animal Ownership Interaction Study. Over that time period, the Center has enlisted over 6000 dog guardians as members of its scientific community who remain ready to participate in future studies, but we continue to struggle to secure the financial support adequate to continue large undertakings.
While CCBS’ canine behavior research is equal to that being done at the country’s University Schools of Veterinary Medicine that receive millions in funding from the prescription and science based dog food companies seeking access to educate future veterinarians to their products, the Center has not been able to secure similar support despite its deserving research.
Fund raising, advertising and marketing are costly as illustrated by the fact that over 40% of the $500 million raised by America’s two largest animal welfare organizations goes to pay for it. Consider that less than ¼ of 1% of the $85 million in salaries, compensation and benefits paid out by America’s two largest animal welfare organizations would more than cover the Center’s entire annual operating budget!
I was recently quite moved by this TED Talk where activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta “calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).”
If you support animal welfare or any charity, you might want to watch it too. Then consider the Return on Investment that the Center’s investment in research will generate when dog guardians, veterinarians and trainers-behaviorists can start to use our findings to better treat a canine’s behavior issue the first time, and the savings in time, money and perhaps even a dog’s life.