Muskingum University Professor of Biology Amy Santas and Animal Studies major Hannah Tillotson ‘20 co-authored a successful grant application to support four animal studies majors’ senior capstone projects, partnering with Dr. A. Rae Gandolf, veterinarian for the Animal Shelter Society in Zanesville, Ohio.
Through The Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive initiative, Hannah and fellow Muskingum team members Hope Babbitt ’20, Anna Mallett ’20, and Kelli Kinsey ’20 are training the shelter’s cats, helping the felines become more adoptable and more likely to adapt to their forever homes. The project implements concepts the students have mastered through their coursework in a hands-on, practical experience.
Each student has received hours of training developed by The Jackson Galaxy Project, enabling them to provide twice-daily training sessions to the cats, three times each week. Including both classical and operant conditioning, the training uses clickers combined with a reinforcer the cat enjoys such as a toy, being petted, or a treat. The training helps the cats become more confident and more likely to engage with people, which improves the animals’ quality of life, leading to shorter stays in the shelter and supporting successful adoption. New cat owners are provided with a clicker and instructions so that they can continue the training at home with their new pet.
For more information on the initiative, visit Cat Pawsitive. To learn about Muskingum County-area adoptable cats and other pets, visit Zanesville’s Animal Shelter Society.
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