What is the American Pets Alive! Research Committee?

December 23rd, 2019

What is the American Pets Alive! Research Committee?

The American Pets Alive! (AmPA!) Research Committee (AmPA! Research, for short) is a group devoted to advancing research in animal sheltering and related fields using interdisciplinary skills and innovative techniques. In addition to performing our own research into disease, behavior, shelter operations, and more, we also serve as a point of contact for collaboration in research for AmPA! and Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) as well as a curator of research-related resources for these organizations.

What does AmPA! Research do?

  • Maintains a list of current and past research projects
  • Assists researchers and collaborators with getting their research into the proper publishing medium
  • Vets new research projects to determine if they are viable (based on risk, value, and difficulty factors we have enumerated in the Submit a Proposal page)
  • Tracks the use of limited resources such as adopter contacts (we don't want to overload people with surveys)
  • Helps to determine research priorities for the purpose of recruiting collaborators, finding funding, and finding volunteers
  • Maintains contact with research collaborators

What are the critical problems for research in animal sheltering?

Animal Sheltering, in some form, has existed since the mid-1800s and has been a constantly evolving field to both the benefit and detriment of its stakeholders: animals, pet owners, communities, and the organizations which tie these groups together. In the past several decades, a cultural shift has been occurring in which animal welfare has received more attention, resources, and scrutiny than in the decades before. Many cities have been able to increase their live release rates and those of surrounding counties above 90 and even 95%, while smaller, rural shelters may be more likely to struggle due to limited resources.

The space of problems in sheltering is enormous, and as awareness of the needs of shelters continues to rise, more and more groups — academic, corporate, non-profit, and private — are looking for ways to contribute to the wider movement of animal welfare using their unique skills and talents. One difficulty for these potential partners is in understanding what the needs of shelters are and what high-value unsolved problems exist in the field. Some of these are knowledge problems, others, implementation problems, and even more, systemic, cultural, and societal problems. Almost all require some manner of research to explain best practices and truths and differentiate them from traditions and myths. In order to aid interested parties in contributing to these areas of animal sheltering, we have identified 7 key areas, with examples, of critical problems for research in animal sheltering.

AmPA!’s Key Research Areas

How do I submit a proposal?

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, click here to learn about the process, prioritization and decision criteria. If you have additional questions, send us an email at [email protected].

Where can I find more information?

For more detailed information please refer to the “Critical Problems for Research in Animal Sheltering,” published on the American Pets Alive! Medium Blog. This blog will contain the following types of content (typically noted at the top of the article):

  • Field Reviews (such as this article)
  • Literature Reviews (of specific or smaller topic areas of research)
  • Research Reviews (of specific pieces of research)
  • Original Research (performed by AmPA! Research)
  • Program and Protocol Reviews (reviews of specific programs or protocols and their efficacy)
  • Calls for Action (outlines of open problems for others to solve)
  • Opinion Pieces (opinions of the researchers at AmPA! Research)

We currently have projects in most of the areas mentioned, but many remain a nearly complete mystery. If you would like to help, see our website or email us at [email protected].


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