Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Study to Look at Racial Disparities in Animal Welfare

Stan L. Bowie
Dr. Stan Bowie

A study to assess racial disparities in animal welfare organizations in the US will soon be under way in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work. The study is sponsored by Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity, or CARE, with funding from PetSmart Charities and Maddie’s Fund.  

The study will consider organizations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; Dallas, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona. Behavioral science researchers will be gathering demographic, experiential, and organizational data as they seek to answer two questions:

  • What differences exist in how different racial and ethnic groups within a community are impacted by policies and procedures of animal control agencies and animal welfare organizations?
  • How are pet adoption procedures and practices impacting racial and ethnic groups within a community?

The principal investigator for the study, Stan L. Bowie, is a professor and researcher at UT. He is supported by College of Social Work Research Coordinator Linda Hinkle and three student research assistants.

The study will address the general question of whether race or ethnicity is an unacknowledged factor in decisions, written and unwritten policies, and official rulings by animal welfare organizations and law enforcement agencies. It will include an in-depth examination of organizational processes, decisions, and past outcomes specifically related to rescued and seized pets and their subsequent adoptions.

This project is set to be completed in 2022. CARE is also hoping to support a second phase, tentatively launching in fall 2022, which will expand the scope of the study to six additional cities. 

About CARE
Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity is a nonprofit agency that addresses organizational and personal biases within animal welfare. The mission is to bring diverse voices to the industry while also advocating for a more inclusive path to pet adoption. CARE believes in using evidence-based tools, narratives, and insights to inspire organizations to be more inclusive and less biased, all in an effort to save more companion animal lives. The Research and Development Department at CARE is led by Chief Johnny Jenkins and Senior Director Mueni Loko Rudd. For more information, visit

About the College of Social Work
The College of Social Work is committed to advancing the mission of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as the state’s flagship land-grant university to provide a quality public education for the citizens of Tennessee through exemplary teaching, research, and service. The college provides a professional social work education program that prepares bachelor’s- and master’s-level students for social work practice and doctoral-level graduate students for social work research and academia.

Angela Thomas, Marketing & Communications Manager, UT College of Social Work

Mary Tan, Whisker Media