Kate is currently completing her PhD at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, as a member of the Anthrozoology Research Group (ARG). The ARG conducts scientific research investigating the human-animal bond, animal behaviour, animal welfare and human psychology.

Kate’s PhD thesis is entitled “Behavioural assessment of Australian adult shelter dogs: Development of the Behavioural Assessment for Re-homing K9’s (B.A.R.K.) protocol.”

When a dog enters an animal shelter in Australia, the shelter staff usually assess the dog’s behaviour to see whether it is suitable for adoption. Currently, animal shelters and pounds use a variety of different tests, many of which have not been scientifically validated, when they assess a dog’s behaviour. This poses a significant welfare concern when life and death decisions are made on the basis of such tests.

There are two aims of Kate’s research. Firstly, to evaluate current methods used to assess canine behaviour in a shelter environment and secondly, to develop and scientifically validate a standardised behavioural assessment (the B.A.R.K. protocol) to potentially be used by shelters and pounds Australia wide.