Assess each animal daily and ensure that all needed steps have been taken for that animal that day, including:
Contacting owner or other follow up on identification (eg. tracking microchip or license information to owner information)
Behavioral and/or medical care to alleviate suffering and improve adoptability
Initiation or discontinuation of treatment
Behavioral and/or medical assessment to determine adoptability
Spay/neuter surgery or other medical procedures required before adoption
Rescue group contact and pick-up
Movement from areas such as stray to adoptable areas as soon as required hold is completed
Euthanasia – decision and performance
The daily assessment should include representatives from each department of the shelter. On a daily basis, staff must be able /empowered to assess clerical issues (e.g. paperwork, owner contact process, issues with legal holds); medical issues; and behavioral issues. Perform daily rounds early in the day if possible (prior to cleaning) at a time when interruptions will be minimized. The assessment includes a consideration of the pathway for each animal, a look at the overall condition of each ward or holding area (smell, cleanliness, noise, overall presentation to adopters) and attention to each animal’s paperwork, cage/kennel, and an assessment of the animal’s physical and mental condition. For group housed animals (including litters), specifically note each animal in the group and briefly assess them as described below, the same as for individually housed animals. At least every two weeks, perform a more detailed evaluation of each individual animal still in the shelter.
Paperwork/computer record: Is the paperwork current, in accord with the computer record, and does it accurately describe the animal? Are dates on the paperwork accurate? Have all needed steps been taken to contact owners/interested parties/rescue? Is there any paperwork on the cage that might unduly discourage adopters (e.g. describing behavioral or medical issues that have since been resolved?) Is there any indication on the paperwork that the animal has a behavioral or physical condition that will present special challenges for adoption (e.g. a description that the animal was surrendered for a serious behavior problem)? If so, is there information for adopters describing what steps have been taken to mitigate the problem, or other information that might encourage the animal to be considered for adoption?
Location/status (legal, medical, behavioral): Is the animal in the location within the shelter that is recorded in the computer? Is the animal in the correct location within the shelter, based on its physical condition, behavioral and hold status? For example, is the animal past its stray hold but still in a holding area rather than an adoption area? Is it in a treatment area even though it has recovered from the illness being treated? If the animal is not housed in the appropriate location, immediately schedule steps to remedy the situation, e.g. behavioral or medical evaluation, movement to the appropriate area of the shelter.
Cage/kennel: What is the condition of the animal’s environment? Is there evidence of illness, such as diarrhea or sneeze marks on the walls? Are the housing conditions safe, with no damage to the kennel, water-er, bed, food dishes etc. that could harm the animal? Is the environment humane for the amount of time the animal has been held? If the animal has been in that kennel for more than one month, does it have enrichment equivalent to that expected in an adoptive home (e.g. room to move about, stretch to full length, choice of hard and soft surfaces for resting, toys and access to human contact and exercise on a daily basis)?
Animal: Is there any evidence of illness? Is this being treated appropriately? If the animal is on treatment, has an appropriate recheck date been scheduled? Is there evidence of kennel stress or other behavioral concerns? Is there anything about the animal’s behavior or appearance that might deter adopters, such as a very dirty or matted hair coat or aggressive barking at by-passers?
Re-evaluation of Animals Held Long Term
Perform a more extensive evaluation of each animal’s physical and mental condition and adoptability at least every two weeks. Take the animal out of the kennel, run your hands over the body to look for weight loss, wounds, sores or other physical problems, and reassess the animal’s overall well being. Ideally animals should also be weighed every two weeks while in the shelter, as weight loss or gain is a common problem in long-term housed animals. Schedule a full physical exam by a veterinarian at least every six months or more often if indicated (e.g. chronic medical condition, geriatric animal).
Daily Rounds Action List
Except in emergencies (e.g. a severely ill animal is identified that needs immediate action to prevent exposure or other animals or relieve suffering), action on animals should not be taken during rounds. Instead, maintain a “daily action list” noting every single animal that needs action taken to make sure it is in the right location, with current paperwork/computer record, is scheduled for any needed procedures at a definite time, all needed contacts have been made (owner reclaim, rescue etc.), the animal is housed safely and appropriately and is receiving all required medical and behavioral care. Most actions should be completed on the same day they are noted. Occasionally, it will be necessary to schedule the animal for an action on a defined date in the near future (e.g. spay/neuter surgery prior to release, pick up by rescue on a definite date). When scheduled, this should be noted on the animal’s paperwork and in its computer record so the action does not need to be re-recorded unless it fails to take place on the day scheduled.
The action list can double as a medical log for the veterinarian. Actions requiring veterinary review can be highlighted for easy identification. If the veterinarian does not come in daily, note on the action list the date that the veterinarian is expected to check the animal. Make copies as needed if several people will be working from the action list throughout the day. Review the action list at the end of each day (generally by the shelter manager). Because most actions will be completed on the same day they are noted, it may be easier to rewrite actions carried over from the previous day on a new action list. No more than 2-3 days worth of action lists should be kept at any one time. If actions routinely carry over from one day to the next simply because staff time is not adequate, this is an indication that scheduling or planning needs to be reevaluated. Delaying procedures does not save staff time, since they will ultimately have to be done and in the meantime, the animal will stay longer (increasing daily staff requirements) and will experience a delay in receiving needed care.
This material generously provided by UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program