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Sara Bennett DVM

Clinical Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine

CVM Main Building NA

Bio

Dr. Sara Bennett received her DVM degree in 2006 from Purdue University. She spent 3 years in general practice in Southwest Indiana before returning to Purdue to complete a residency in Animal Behavior with a Shelter Medicine focus and Masters of Science. She obtained certification as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2012. After board-certification, she spent several years in private practice in Chicago and the Midwest seeing privately owned patients and consulting with a variety of sheltering organizations. She is also a co-instructor for University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine online learning course, Shelter Animal Behavior and Welfare, which is part of the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program.

Publications

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Grants

Date: 05/01/22 - 4/30/23
Amount: $2,500.00
Funding Agencies: Fear Free, LLC

Excessive barking, a frequent source of noise pollution in dog kennels, has been proven to have a negative impact on welfare. Many facilities, especially animal shelters, have limited staff and resources, so it is important to minimize barking in a simple and easily implemented way. A pilot study was conducted in a boarding kennel at the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. A Quiet Kennel Exercise (QKE) utilized classical counterconditioning in order to change the negative emotional states that cause barking, to a positive emotional state, by tossing treats to the dogs no matter their behavior as people passed through the ward. Therefore, the motivation behind the barking is reduced, so barking should decrease. Preliminary descriptive results from the pilot study show improvement in the maximum level of barking after QKE, and there appears to be a trend with the most improvement in the afternoon. Statistical analysis confirmed that volume of barking was loudest in the morning and the volume increased with the number of dogs present. This pilot data was used to calculate an appropriate sample size in order to show proof of concept that clinical recommendations to decrease barking through classical counterconditioning are effective. This study will repeat the pilot study in a shelter setting with a more robust sample size. Data will be collected over a one week baseline period, and then over an additional four weeks with the QKE implemented. Data collected will include decibel readings, number of dogs present, and number of dogs barking.


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