After you assess a dog and record the behavior responses on the SAFERŪ worksheet, the assessment team should review the dog's worksheet and scores.
If any of the canine behaviors displayed during the assessment are a concern, the team should:
Review the assessment video to ensure that the assessment was conducted correctly and that the dog was not handled in a way that could account for the particular response.
If you identify a problem with handling, return the dog to the kennel, and wait until the next day to reassess the dog. If you have more than one assessment team, another team should conduct the second assessment. If not, the original assessor and observer could swap roles when repeating the assessment of this dog.
If the assessment process and dog handling were conducted appropriately, bring the dog's assessment to the attention of your Animal Behavior or Animal Care Supervisor to determine next steps.
Options for Dogs with Behavior Issues
Each shelter is unique and has different resources available to address behaviors identified during SAFER assessment. Next steps will vary from shelter to shelter, but here are options to consider.
If staff and cage space are available, allow the dog another 24 hours to settle into his surroundings and then reassess the dog.
If you have a behavior staff, put the dog on a behavior modification program and reassess after the program is complete. The behavior modification protocols developed for specific SAFER assessment items are a good starting point for the dog's individualized program.
If you have experienced behavior foster homes for dogs with behavior issues, you can set up the dog with an experienced foster volunteer to follow through with the behavior modification program and observe the dog's behavior in a "real life" setting.
If you do not have a behavior department, you can use community dog trainers to devise additional behavior modification protocols, work with the shelter dogs, or serve as behavior foster homes.
A local rescue group may be interested in taking the dog. Sharing the dog's assessment with the group allows them to make an informed decision about whether or not they have the resources to meet the dog's needs.
SAFER and Euthanasia Decisions
The SAFER Aggression Assessment can help supervisors make euthanasia decisions, but the assessment alone should never be the only input to this decision. Whenever a life or death decision must be made, we strongly recommend that you consider the following information in addition to the dog's assessment scores:
Relinquishment surveys done at intake
Veterinary reports from the health check
Input from animal care technicians, volunteers, and foster homes who have interacted with the dog
The following video provides more information about choosing appropriate next steps after a SAFER assessment.
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