Rescue animals can become more optimistic, with rescue centres playing a vital role

A study by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London has found that female goats who had been subjected to poor welfare in the past were “more optimistic” than well-treated females once they had begun a new life at a rescue centre.

 

Nine rescued goats were observed in a spatial awareness test that aimed to discover whether the poor welfare the goats had experienced had impacted on their mental health, by comparing their behaviour against that of nine well-treated goats.

Elvis, seen here, is a sponsor dog at Dogs Trust who will be hoping to find a new home in the future Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

Co-author of the study, Dr Elodie Briefer, said, “We found that female goats that had been previously neglected were the most optimistic of all the tested animals. They were more optimistic than well-treated females, but also the poorly treated males. This suggests that females may be better at recovering from neglect when released from stress, and might have implications for animal sanctuaries in how they tailor the care they provide for the different sexes.”

Dr Briefer continued, “Mood can have a huge influence on how the brain processes information. In humans, for example, it’s well known that people in positive moods have an optimistic outlook on life, which means they are more resilient to stress. In the same way, measures of optimism and pessimism can provide indicators for an understanding of animal welfare.”

As the goats were monitored while seeking out food – which the rescued goats were “more optimistic” about finding, in that they went to greater lengths to obtain it than the goats who had been well treated – The Mighty Pooch wonders if actually the findings show that rescued animals have developed a more pronounced survival instinct than those who have been well looked after all their lives. However, what the findings do seem to show is that many neglected animals can begin to recover once they are given good care and this is a positive endorsement for rescue centres, such as Dogs Trust and Radar Rescue, who are hoping to reverse the effects of neglect and maltreatment on animals.

Dr Alan McElligott, also from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, concluded, “The study shows that animal rescue centres, such as Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, where we collected our data, can provide a vital role in reversing long-term neglect once the animals receive excellent care.”

This week on The Mighty Pooch Blog – on Wednesday we’ll feature an exclusive interview with Dogs Trust’s Laura-Jane Muscroft, who visits schools to teach children about responsible dog ownership, and we’ll meet the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs on Friday.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Email: hello@themightypooch.co.uk

Advertisements

We'd love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: