Development of an item scale to assess attitudes towards domestic dogs in the United Republic of Tanzania

  • Knobel D
  • Laurenson M
  • Kazwala R
 et al. 
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Domestic dogs are important sources of rabies exposure for humans in the developing world. Control of the disease in endemic areas relies on the vaccination of owned dogs, and thus owners' attitudes and behavior towards household dogs may be of relevance to rabies control programs. However, none of the instruments used to evaluate attitudes towards companion animals have been validated for use in developing countries. In this paper, we present the development of an item scale to measure attitudes towards owned dogs in Tanzania. We assess the scale's reliability and validity, and conduct a preliminary analysis of factors affecting respondents' attitudes. Twelve 5-point Likert scale items were selected from an item pool during the pilot phase. Following administration of these items to 824 dog owners across 12 study sites in Tanzania, two subscales were derived, representing the acceptance of dogs as equals and physical interactions with household dogs. Both subscales showed acceptable levels of reliability and concurrent validity, although the latter estimates were found to be influenced by interviewer identity. Male respondents had significantly higher scores on both subscales than females, and Muslim respondents showed more positive attitudes towards dogs as equals than did Christians. Among those respondents who were also the heads of their households, those whose dogs were vaccinated against rabies had a more positive attitude towards dogs as equals. It is hoped that the derived item scale will serve as a basis to further understanding of the motivational considerations of attitudes towards dogs in developing countries, and how these may influence aspects of dog ownership, welfare, and disease control.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Dogs
  • Rabies
  • Tanzania

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  • Darryn L. Knobel

  • M. Karen Laurenson

  • Rudovick R. Kazwala

  • Sarah Cleaveland

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