Data collection: understanding the situation

When a community has concerns about a dog or cat population, it is important to identify some details about the animal population and what human attitudes and behaviours might be influencing the situation.

Data collection can seem daunting, but a bit of work collecting data and information now will result in a more successful project in the future.

Below are some examples of surveys that IFAW or other organizations have used in the past. Each survey was created for a unique project, problem, and population of people and animals.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” survey, and if you decide to develop a survey for your community you will likely need to modify these surveys to fit your community.

Dog Census
Before embarking on a dog population management program, it is essential that the dynamics of the dog population are understood and measured objectively. This approach ensures the final plan will be tailored to the characteristics of the local dog population, rather than using a single intervention for all dogs or all situations.

Public Attitude and Behaviour Survey

Understanding how your community feels about its dogs or cats and how people behave is critical.  Public surveys can bring to light the strength and variety of opinions among people which can help you focus management efforts on priority concerns and help target interventions effectively.  They can also ensure that management efforts are grounded in reality, not based on false assumptions.  Public surveys take time to develop and implement properly, but they can document the complexities of human-animal interactions which can be incredibly useful in making decisions about which strategies to use.  Questions should be kept simple, and the language and content should fit the local culture and context.