Using Science to Help Dogs in Need of Rehoming | The Dog Rehoming Project

the dog rehoming project uses dog science to help dogs in need of rehoming

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 82 - The Dog Rehoming Project

Using Science to Help Dogs in Need of Rehoming | The Dog Rehoming Project

How exactly can science help dogs in need of rehoming?

According to Dr. Karen Griffin, founder of the nonprofit organization called The Dog Rehoming Project,

“Dog overpopulation—stray dogs, unwanted dogs—are a worldwide problem. So, it’s hard to get exact figures… (But) in the U.S., recent estimates show (that) somewhere between about 4 and 6 million dogs are stray and enter shelters every year… So, we definitely have a problem… Yet, the amount of research that exists relative to the magnitude of the problem…is very disproportional. So, we’re putting science behind dog sheltering and dog rehoming.”

About the Mission of The Dog Rehoming Project

the mission of the dog rehoming project

Aiming to support scientific research in the canine field, Dr. Karen founded The Dog Rehoming Project. Its mission is to bridge the gap between science and the individuals and organizations seeking to effectively shelter, provide sufficient welfare for, and rehome dogs.

In line with this, Dr. Karen shared that they had three primary aims:

  1. To both raise funds and then fund research about canine welfare;
  2. To serve as a central portal between researchers doing work in this field and the people and organizations whom they might need as participants; and
  3. To disseminate research in this field to the people and organizations who need it in an accessible and comprehensible manner.

Dr. Karen elaborated,

“We need to take research…out of the journals, out of the academia, and give it to the people who need it. But, we need to give it to them in a way that they can understand. So, you know: ‘This is X study. This is what we found, and these are the results. Most importantly, this is what it means to you. This is how you can use the research to amend your policies, amend your procedures, to improve dog welfare.’

How The Dog Rehoming Project Began

how to get involved with the dog rehoming project

Taking a walk down memory lane, Dr. Karen shared how she got started with the idea of the nonprofit organization.

“Part of it began when I was writing my PhD thesis… The last chapter of it, you basically say, ‘Okay, this is all that I found. Years of work—this is where we are.’ But what’s interesting about it is…there just seems to be a big gap between research and practice… It just felt that there was this gap, and we needed to be able to bridge it because otherwise why are me and my colleagues…joining this research? What’s the point?”

Seeing that there was no funding in this field of academic research, she decided that with The Dog Rehoming Project, they would increase the pot of money that’s focused on canine research.

She also wanted the organization to operate more efficiently than most traditional organizations are doing.

“I’m excited. This is a long-haul thing, not a short-term thing. So, yeah, we’re hoping overall to improve the welfare of dogs through science,”

Dr. Karen said, closing the podcast.



Learn more about The Dog Rehoming Project!

Check out their website at

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Dr. Griffin: Hi, this is Dr. Karen Griffin and you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Dr. Griffin, tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Dr. Griffin: I’m a Research Scientist.

I work in the field of shelter dogs and dog rehoming. I started a nonprofit organization, called The Dog Rehoming Project. And the mission of it is:

To bridge the gap between the research that exists in this field and the people and organizations who need it.

So, that we’re putting science behind dog sheltering and dog rehoming.

Chris: Maybe break it down for a bit.

Tell people what are—you know, what is rehoming? What are some of the problems of rehoming? And what are the things that you guys are studying?

Dr. Griffin: Dog overpopulation, stray dogs, unwanted dogs are a worldwide problem. In the U.S. recent estimates shows— somewhere between about 4 and 6 million dogs enter shelters every year.

Stray dogs worldwide, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dogs. So, definitely, we have a problem.

This field of canine science— so that kind of looking at sheltering and rehoming has really taken off in the last 20 years or so. Having said that, the amount of research that exists relative to the magnitude of the problem, so, number of dogs entering shelters, number of dogs being relinquished, etc. It is very disproportionate.

What we are finding—I found this on my own research is that organizations— both shelters, rehoming organizations whatever you want to call them, totally recognizing that there are huge differences, right.

We have huge open municipal shelters. We have small rehoming organizations. We have all sorts of things.

But if you kind of look at them overall, as a group in general, they often tend to like to run on tradition. So, we have always done things this way. Therefore, we are going to keep doing them this way.

Certainly, there are exceptions. Certainly, there are some organizations that are very kind of progressive and science forward, but that seems to be the exception, not the norm.

So our organization, there are three kinds of primary aims that allow us to work towards that mission. And the first aim: Is to both fundraise and then fund research in this field.

Our second objective: Is to serve as kind of a central portal between researchers doing work in this field, either on their own kind of dime their own project or research that we will fund in due course.

Our third aim, and really what’s at the core of why we’re all here: Is to disseminate research in this field to the people and organizations who need it in an accessible and comprehensible manner.

So, yeah, those are our three aims. 

Chris: You’ve got some really— you know, short-term goals here.

Dr. Griffin: They’re just tiny.

We’re thinking like the next month or two,  we’ll be all wrapped up.

Chris: But I like the fact that your— it’s like, you’re going big with these things, right?

Because you’re recognized—I mean you and I have talked about the fact I don’t go read these journals, these scientific journals. Yet, there are some really interesting insights. If you can find somebody that can distill it down into— like you said, out of the P-values into, so what? Here’s what it means, right?

They studied 1000 animals. Here’s what they found. And more importantly, what do you do with that, right. So, how does that help rescues and shelters and even just pet parents to be able to better care for them?

So, what have you learned about yourself in the process?

Dr. Griffin: When I kind of said, okay, I have these ideas. I’m going to start an organization like we’re doing this. One of the things that I did in that early stage was to kind of feel around to see. I knew I needed a team. It couldn’t just be me.

I was very fortunate over the course of my Ph.D. to meet some really amazing people. And so I thought: Okay, I know I need teams of people of scientists and people who work in other aspects of the field. I need a board. I tend to ask around and make sure there’s enough interest. So I did.

It was a little bit scary because even though a lot of these people were good friends of mine, I kind of said, “Hey, I have this idea. I know you already have a full time job, a family, all the stuff on your plate, but I just need to do one tiny thing for me, can you also be involved—”

So, in terms of learning about myself, taking on small things, but also learning to kind of, like, rely on other people, and like, it’s okay to ask them.

Chris: I think big goals are what we should be doing and pushing further. So, I’m excited to see where you’re going to take this.

Tell people the website. I know you said you’re on social media as well.

Dr. Griffin: Yup, so it’s THEDOGREHOMINGPROJECT.ORG We’re on all the social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all the social media. and eventually, we will probably be on YouTube as well.

Once we get our interviews up and running.

Chris: Like I said, I’m excited to talk to you and see where this is going to go. It sounds like it’s going to be a journey. And you’re just at the very beginning.

As we wrap up, I’ll just remind our viewers and listeners that if you’ve got a big idea like Dr. Griffin does,  or a product, or service, or something else that you’ve come up with, that’s helping people and helping animals, we want to talk about it.

So, go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and we’d love to have you on.

So, thank you again, Dr. Griffin, for coming on.

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