a woman pets a dog being held by its owner in front of their home
Photo by David Swanson/AP Images for the HSUS

The animal welfare field has struggled to understand the barriers preventing historically and systemically marginalized communities from accessing pet services. The lack of awareness of cultural differences and common barriers can reinforce implicit bias, deepen the trust gap between providers and clients, and create an additional barrier that leaves companion animals and their families in underserved communities without adequate care.

The University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is conducting a study on cultural competence in three key community support programs (return to owner, veterinary services, and pet food/supply pantry) provided by animal shelters across the United States. This study will increase understanding of how cultural competence impacts the clients who engage in the pet support services offered by animal shelters and provide insights on how we can build more accessible services. Any staff employed by an organization providing one or more of the three program areas are eligible to complete the survey. Individual responses will remain confidential and won’t be available to your organization or the Humane Society of the United States. Results of the study will only be reported in aggregate.

If you choose to participate, you will also be asked to support the recruitment of the clients your organization serves for the client portion of the study, which may include distributing flyers and/or an email with information regarding the study to all clients who engage in any of the three program areas during the study period. Client responses will also be confidential, and each client will receive a Visa gift card for participating.

To learn more about the study, watch the brief (less than 20 minutes) information session below, and then complete the provider survey. If you have any questions, please reach out to the researchers overseeing the study, Liana.moss@du.edu or Kaleigh.oreilly@du.edu.