In theory, it's hard to argue with foot baths: When you step in the germicidal solution, infectious agents are killed before they can be tracked throughout the shelter.
That's theory. The reality? Foot baths can become cesspools that, according to the ASPCA's Shelter Medicine Services veterinarians, actually spread disease rather than prevent it.
Here are four reasons you should give foot baths the boot:
Little contact time with disinfectants
Foot baths are meant for quickly dipping your shoes in before walking in high-traffic and/or contaminated areas. But many pathogens, particularly parvo, require at least 10 minutes of direct contact with the sanitizing agent before being killed. The quick nature of foot baths, er, "defeets" the purpose.
Foot baths become contaminated with organic matter like dirt and feces, thereby diminishing their effectiveness since many viruses and bacteria require organic matter to survive.
Lack of scrubbing
Foot baths are more effective coupled with scrubbing the bottom of the shoes. However, this takes additional time and creates a Catch 22, whereby you are adding more organic matter to the foot bath, thus rendering it less sterile.
Frequently in a shelter setting, foot baths consist of litter boxes containing a towel soaked with a small amount of disinfectant. At best, these shallow foot baths are ineffective. At worst, the added moisture on shoes and floors might actually promote the survival and spread of pathogens.