03/30/2022 Introduction to a Quality of Life App for Animal Shelters

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Quality of Life reflects the balance between positive and negative emotions experienced by an animal and is particularly important to consider in animal shelters where animals can face a myriad of stressors. Quality of Life assessments provide a methodological approach to scoring welfare. They can include physiological measurements and owner-completed questionnaires. In the shelter, Quality of Life assessments can help shelters to identify animals with poor welfare so they can be fast-tracked for intervention and track changes in the welfare of individual animals during their shelter stay. However, most of the existing quality-of-life assessment tools are not suitable for the shelter environment. Many of the tools require the assessor to have a thorough understanding of the animal’s typical behavior and preferences, a prerequisite that is hard to meet in the shelter environment and fail to capture important environmental parameters that are unique to the shelter environment. 

The Penn Vet Quality of Life Tool app was developed to provide animal shelters with a practical, research-based method of assessing the quality of life of dogs in their care. The assessment covers three areas of animal welfare: environment, behavior, and physical health. Attendees will learn about the development of the Penn Vet Quality of Life Tool, the contents of the assessment, and the data produced by the app, including the quality-of-life scores and figures. The talk will include preliminary data about the tool’s use in animal shelters and discuss future plans for the app. 

This session is part of the Shelter Medicine series, a collaboration between the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

Presented by 

Brittany Watson, BS/MS, VMD, PhD, Director, Shelter Animal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Lauren Powell, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

This live and recorded program is:

  • Approved for 1 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credit 
  • Approved for 1 NACA CE
  • Approved for 1 hour of continuing education credit in jurisdictions which recognize RACE

If you wish to earn RACE CEs, you MUST submit your veterinary/tech license number + license state when you join the live session or after you watch recording (due to new AAVSB RACE requirements)!  Participants have to attend at least 50 minutes of the live session / watch 50 minutes of the recording in order to receive the 1-hour credit of RACE CE.


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Brittany Watson, BS/MS, VMD, PhD

Director, Shelter Animal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Brittany Watson is the Director of Shelter Medicine and Community Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Co-Head of the Behavior, Welfare, and Human-Animal Interaction Research Division. She is an Associate Professor in Clinical Shelter Medicine in the Department of Clinical Sciences & Advanced Medicine. She currently manages medical, surgical, and educational training of veterinary students through electives and primary care, shelter medicine rotations and courses, and community outreach initiatives. Course techniques involve integrating community needs, best teaching practices, and organizational leadership strategies. She involves veterinary students in authentic learning experiences including medical shelter exams, at-home visits with community partners, continuing education to shelters, one-health approaches to problem solving, outreach to local school classrooms, and shelter population management.  She also teaches in the online Animal Welfare and Behavior Certificate and Master’s Program at Penn Vet.  Dr. Watson is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. 

She was previously the Veterinary Director of Continuing Education Initiatives at Charleston Animal Society (CAS). She received her BS in Biology and MS in Education at Duquesne University, VMD at the University of Pennsylvania, and her PhD in Educational Leadership at the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation focused on examining the impact of humane education and science outreach programs on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of high school students participating in the VSI: Veterinary Science Initiative Program.

Dr. Lauren Powell, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Lauren Powell is a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. She received a bachelor’s degree with First Class Honours in Animal and Veterinary Bioscience and a PhD in Public Health (Human-Animal Interactions) from the University of Sydney. Lauren has published 25 scientific articles and initiated a breadth of research projects investigating human-animal interactions, animal behavior and shelter medicine. She has also led the development of the Penn Vet Quality of Life Tool app. 

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