We are really excited that you are getting a pet and have chosen to visit our website to learn more about what to consider before bringing your pet home!

We are a group of researchers from the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario, Canada that have been investigating positive behavior training, pet relinquishment, and pet overpopulation by way of the Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada Chair in Communications (2010-2015). This visionary Chair was established in 2010 through a generous gift by Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada to improve the relationship between companion animals and people through research and education.

We are thrilled to share the outcome of our research along with other reliable information to assist you in forming a positive and sustainable relationship with your new pet even before you bring it home.

Now, a little more about our team …

Dr. Jason Coe

Jason has always considered animals, big and small, to be a significant part of his life. It was the many relationships with animals throughout his life that fueled his interest in veterinary medicine as a career. After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2001, Jason entered mixed-animal practice for a few years before returning to the College where he completed a PhD in the area of veterinary communication in 2008. In the same year, Jason joined the Ontario Veterinary College as a faculty member in the Department of Population Medicine. He has established an active research program examining the human-animal bond as well as the role of veterinarian-client communication on the outcomes of veterinary care. In his role at the College, he currently coordinates the clinical-communication curriculum across all four years of the veterinary program and is involved in teaching veterinary students about the relationships that exist between people and animals. In 2010, Jason was awarded the Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada Chair in Communications dedicated to improving the relationship between companion animals and people through research and education.

When not dedicating his time to improving the relationships between people and animals through research and teaching, Jason enjoys personal time with his wife, son, and two daughters.

Rachel O’Connor

Rachel completed a Master of Science in Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine at OVC. Her research focused on adopter concerns and expectations prior to companion-animal acquisition.

Rachel has always, always been an animal lover. She grew up with cats and dogs and considers her pets family members. She has been lucky to both personally experience, and see through her research and work at veterinary clinics and humane societies, the close connections people build with pets and the benefits of the human-animal relationship. Rachel is passionate about providing pet owners with an educational source that is helpful and one in which pet owners can feel confident about the accuracy of the information provided.

Rachel has a cat named Milo. He’s calm, loving, gentle, and so sweet! She has such a great bond with Milo and can’t imagine her life without the little guy.

Dr. Kim Lambert

Kim completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at OVC and a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Department of Population Medicine at OVC. Kim’s research investigated reasons for companion-animal relinquishment.

Kim has a deep connection with animals that guided her to becoming a veterinarian. She also enjoys helping and connecting with people and being a veterinarian has given her that opportunity as well. Kim believes that one of the most important ways to connect with people is through communication and she finds great joy in working with veterinary students to enhance their clinical communication to improve the lives of their future clients and patients.

Kim has a wonderful, supportive husband and two amazing children, who bring balance to her life. They have a cat, Abigail, who makes them smile everyday.

Tasha Welch

Tasha has a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine at OVC. Her research explored rabbit-owner knowledge and considerations for rabbit ownership.

When Tasha was 15, she fell in love with her first rabbit. It is a passion of Tasha’s to promote rabbit ownership, sharing knowledge she has gained and mistakes she has learned from, in hopes of reducing relinquishment and encouraging the development of human-rabbit bonds.

Growing up, Tasha’s family had a beautiful yellow lab that lived a long, wonderful life of 14 years of age. Over her lifetime, Tasha has had 4 rabbits, 3 of which were rescues. Each rabbit has found its way into her and her family’s hearts. It always surprises them how much these little creatures impact their life in a positive and rewarding way.

Dr. Tyler Flockhart

Tyler completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Department of Population Medicine at the OVC. During his time at OVC, he applied field studies, experiments, and mathematical models to guide optimal management decisions for the cat overpopulation issue. Tyler’s interest lies in wanting to know how to make optimal management decisions for species of concern in the face of global change.

Tyler lives with his wife, his son, and their cat named Stitch. When Tyler’s wife was in veterinary school, she came home one day after completing her first feline spay surgery, saying how the stitches she did were perfect! Needless to say, she fell in love with the cat, and they ended up adopting her and naming her Stitch!




Dr. Janet Higginson-Cutler

Janet is a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Population Medicine at OVC, who is focusing her research efforts on influential factors on dog behaviour. She is very interested in animal behaviour and welfare and has worked with many species, including horses, pigs, and dairy cows. Janet is a certified professional dog trainer, and working with dogs with behaviour problems led to her interest in puppy socialization.

Janet lives with her husband, daughter, who is the light of their lives, and an Australian Shepherd named Mackenzie. She also spends time taking care of her 10 chickens and 2 geese.

Aileigh Kay

Aileigh completed a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph. During that time, Aileigh was introduced to the research field of animal behaviour and welfare, which made her interested in pursuing further education and research experience in graduate studies.

Aileigh is a Master of Science student in Epidemiology at the Department of Population Medicine at OVC. Her main research focus is companion-animal overpopulation. Aileigh was interested in this topic because she has previously worked at an animal shelter where she experienced first-hand the effect and scale of the issue.

Aileigh has been lucky enough to experience the companionship of pets throughout her life. Aileigh hopes to adopt her own fur-baby soon!



Coe, J.B., Young, I., Lambert, K., Dysart, L., Nogueira Borden, L. and Rajic, A. (2014). A scoping review of published research on the relinquishment of companion animals. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 17(3), 1-21.
Flockhart, D.T.T., Norris, D.R., and Coe, J.B. (2016). Predicting free-roaming cat population densities in urban areas. Animal Conservation, 1-10.

Lambert, K., Coe, J.B., Niel, L., Dewey, C. and Sargeant, J.M. (2015). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the proportion of dogs surrendered for dog-related and owner-related reasons. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 118(1), 148-160.

O'Connor, R., Coe, J.B., Niel, L. and Jones-Bitton, A. (2016). Effect of adopters' lifestyles and animal-care knowledge on their expectations prior to companion-animal guardianship. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19(2), 157-170.

O'Connor, R., Coe, J.B., Niel, L. and Jones-Bitton, A. Exploratory study of adopters' concerns prior to acquiring dogs or cats from animal shelters. Society & Animals, In press.