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Equity-Centered Study to Research Lack of Diversity in Animal Welfare Launched by University of Tennessee Knoxville
Funded by Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity
(Baltimore, MD. October 20, 2021) — The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) College of Social Work will be conducting a groundbreaking study to assess racial disparities in animal welfare organizations across the United States. Nonprofit Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE) will fund the study, which will look at four animal welfare organizations in Charlotte, N.C., Los Angeles, Calif., Dallas, Tex. and Tucson, Ariz.
The study seeks to answer two questions:
- What differences exist in how different racial and ethnic groups within a community are impacted by policies and procedures of animal control agencies and animal welfare organizations?
- How are pet adoption procedures and practices impacting racial and ethnic groups within a community?
Behavioral Science Researchers will gather demographic, experiential, and organizational data. James Evans, founder of CARE, believes “there is a disturbing void of empirical research studies on the topic of racial disparities in animal welfare. There are also no scientific, evidence-based, or empirical studies in existence in scientific literature. This research is critical to making the animal welfare industry more equitable.”
Dr. Stan L. Bowie is a professor and researcher at the College of Social Work at UTK and will lead the study. “This is a unique exploratory study into a previously untouched area of animal welfare research in the United States. My research team and I are very excited about how our data and findings might positively impact the pet and animal welfare industry.”
“In every sector of public life, diversity in thought and representation fuels policy, progress, and innovation,” said Kate Atema, Director of Community Grants and Initiatives at PetSmart Charities. “It’s time to analyze long-standing practices in animal welfare to determine if biases exist that make it more difficult for diverse communities to acquire pets and obtain access to the services they need to keep them healthy. Everyone, no matter what group they belong to or where they live, should be able to enjoy the special love and companionship of pets. Pet parenting shouldn’t be limited only to the privileged.”
CARE’s Research and Development Officer Johnny Jenkins echoes that sentiment. “I’m excited to partner with everyone to increase knowledge around the interactions between Black, Indigenous, and people of color and the animal welfare field. We expect this study to lead us into additional lines of query that support our goal to ensure everyone who loves companion pets has access to resources that promote animal well-being.”
The study has two main points of focus and data collection. The first point is the general question of whether race or ethnicity is an unacknowledged factor in decisions, policies, and official rulings by animal welfare organizations and law enforcement agencies. The second point is an in-depth examination of organizational processes, decisions, and past outcomes specifically related to rescued/seized pets and their subsequent adoptions.
This project is set to be completed in 2022. CARE is contributing more than $150,000 towards the study, with assistance from Maddie’s Fund® and PetSmart Charities®.
Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity is a 501©3 nonprofit that addresses organizational and personal biases within animal welfare. The mission is to bring diverse voices to the industry while also advocating for a more inclusive path to pet adoption. CARE believes in using evidence-based tools, narratives, and insights to inspire organizations to be more inclusive and less biased. It is all an effort to save more companion animal lives.
Maddie’s Fund® is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of a promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 – 1997 and continues to inspire them today.
The Foundation has awarded over $255 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education and establishing foster care as a standard across the U.S.
Maddie’s Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The Foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility. #ThanksToMaddie.
About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps nearly 600,000 pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to support organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter and emergency relief. Each year, millions of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities directly at PetSmartCharities.org, while shopping at PetSmart.com, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting more than $475 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of rated charities. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.