The Animal Behavior Hotline is now available to all!

Alongside Fresno State Associate Professor Dr. Steven W. Payne, Valley Animal Center and the Payne Animal Welfare Lab launched the pilot of the Animal Behavior Hotline in July 2021. The hotline was in its pilot phase for seven months and was dedicated to assisting Valley Animal Center adopters with any behavioral issues.

Today, the hotline is available to anyone in need of assistance, not just to Valley Animal Center adopters.

The P.A.W. Lab is a research lab made up of Fresno State student volunteers and focuses on behavior and analytic research with shelter animals. All volunteers have experience working alongside Dr. Payne as they have all attended one or more of his applied behavior analysis courses.

Dr. Payne, who has been teaching at Fresno State for seven years, said he chose to partner with Valley Animal Center because the no-kill shelter aspect of the organization is very important to him.

Anyone dealing with unwanted animal behaviors, such as food aggression, separation anxiety and integration issues, may email the P.A.W. Lab at valleyanimalbehaviorhotline@gmail.com. There is no cost to use this service.

The P.A.W. Lab is prepared to answer questions about dogs and cats. Once an email is received, the P.A.W. Lab will review the issue, make an assessment, and follow up with the pet owner within a week. If a more complicated issue arises, the P.A.W. Lab will refer the pet owner for more intensive care.

To date, the P.A.W. Lab has been able to assist 89% of pet owners who have reached out to them. The most common issue Payne has encountered is integration issues, primarily seen in cats.


The P.A.W. Lab's mission is to use the principles of behavior analysis for the benefit of humans and companion animals.

Dr. Steven W. Payne, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Steven Payne is an Associate Professor in the Applied Behavior Analysis Master's Program at California State University, Fresno. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) and serves as the Vice President of the Applied Animal Behavior Special Interest Group (AAB SIG) of the Association for Behavior Analysis Inernational (ABAI). His research interests include the application of applied behavior analysis to the animal shelter population, behavioral economics, translational research on canine and feline behavior, and environmental sustainability.

Research Documents