Animal Welfare Professionals

  • 1.  Do you still use formal behavior assessments?

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 10-13-2021 12:43 PM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous


    We still use SAFER assessments at the shelter I manage. I am not a huge fan of this test at all- I actually don't think they provide with much valuable information, if any.   And most importantly

    I would like to discuss changing this protocol with my ED but I am curious to know who actually still requires a formal assessments their dogs (such as SAFER, Assess-a-pet, etc..)? 
    Or maybe you might know where I can find reported data on this from ant pool of shelters?   Not a study as to why not or alternatives to (I have plenty of info on that!) but WHO IS actually doing them vs. not... a poll would be superb..

    Even replies such as the following would be helpful:
    "we require SAFER/assess-a-pet"
    "We don't do formal assessments"
     "only for certain dogs"

    Thanks everyone!


  • 2.  RE: Do you still use formal behavior assessments?

    Posted 10-13-2021 04:21 PM
    Hello Anonymous,

    Good question to ask.

    When I became the Director of Behavior Services at our local shelter and my technician the Behavior and Wellness Manager, the very first thing we did was eliminate the SAFER. My technician who is KPA-CTP was tasked with 30 dogs waiting for their behavior evaluations and immediately revised the behavior evaluation for those dogs.  We had support from the ED at the time. 

    Since the SAFER is only a snapshot in time, we worked towards getting more information on intake, behavior observations while in the shelter, observations from volunteers, and foster homes. We still did a behavior evaluation based on observations and interactions with our behavior team but the goal was to transition most of the initial evaluation to intake unless there was a bite history or concerning behavior in the history or initial evaluation. 

    We found out evaluations provided a much broader picture than the SAFER and we used them to match up to adopters. Another local shelter, does their own version of an evaluation which was very similar to ours.

    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF

  • 3.  RE: Do you still use formal behavior assessments?

    Posted 10-14-2021 07:12 AM
    We do not have any formal behavior assessments. We keep notes on any notable observed behaviors, positive or negative, or changes in behavior over the course of their stay. Dogs in consideration for foster or transport programs are introduced to other dogs on site and informally evaluated for suitability for those programs. We are a municipal shelter so we will also do dog to dog introductions at the request of a rescue or for longer stay residents to help encourage an outcome. Some local trainers also volunteer time to do their own evaluations of animals with behavior challenges, sometimes this service is done on behalf of a potential rescue org. 

    Marissa Johnston
    Harris County Pets

  • 4.  RE: Do you still use formal behavior assessments?

    Posted 10-14-2021 11:04 AM
    We started using the SAFER eval because the humane society that was transferring animals from us required an eval be done.  But then we found out they were still doing their own (hybrid type) eval.  So we stopped doing any forma evals, instead we gathering info from the time the dog enters the shelter, staff interactions, surrender forms (with a grain of salt), dog meets, etc.  We get way more information that way than we ever would from a 20 minute temp test.

    Tracy Mohr
    Animal Services Manager
    City of Chico Animal Services