The Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) compiled the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters to provide research-based guidelines that will help any sheltering operation meet the physical, medical, and behavioral needs of the animals in their care. The ASPCA and ASV presented a series of 1-hour webinars through early 2012, each spotlighting a section of the ASV guidelines.
This webinar covers:
The Five Freedoms and how they relate to shelter animal health
Common shelter challenges
How the Guidelines can help prevent suffering
Top Tips from This Webinar
Beyond Daily Rounds
Shelters today are housing animals for longer periods of time than in the past. Besides a daily check (food and water consumption, urination and defecation, etc.) that's performed every 24 hours by a trained person, animals under care for more than a month should have their weight and body condition score monitored monthly to detect weight gains or losses.
No Fancy Software? Paper Can Work
The guidelines state that accurate medical records are essential—and many agencies take advantage of shelter software programs to store and organize this information. However, if your organization doesn't have such a program, a paper medical record is sufficient. The form should contain the following details for each animal:
Date of intake
Vaccinations and re-vaccinations
Diagnostic tests and results
Treatments and procedures
How to Weed Out Worms
The guidelines suggest that at minimum, cats and dogs be dewormed for roundworms and hookworms before leaving the shelter. Ideally, deworming would also take place upon intake and regularly during an animal's stay. To develop a parasite program that targets the most prevalent parasites within the population and the region, conduct surveillance testing of a percentage of the population on a regular basis.
Have a Plan B
Policies need to be in place for incidences of disease in animals who have left the building—for example, those who get sick during the first few days or weeks after adoption. Written policies are also necessary for animals who are still undergoing treatment when they leave the facility.
What the Guidelines Can Inspire
One shelter that had trouble adequately monitoring feeding time found a solution that put their animal care more in line with the guidelines. Each day from 2 to 3 p.m. is "Doggy Wellness Hour" when the kennels are closed to the public for feeding time. The staff uses that time to observe the dogs' food consumption, health, temperament, and well-being. Dogs who aren't eating are helped out with hand feeding, wet food, and medical evaluation.
Bonus: We've packaged the guidelines into a free resource, Shelter Care Checklists: Putting ASV Guidelines Into Action, and we invite you to use this set of easily understandable and actionable checklists in your shelter.
Dr. Spindel is currently a student advocate and shelter medicine consultant with the Veterinary Information Network, as well as affiliate faculty at the Colorado State University department of clinical sciences. A two-term past president of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, she is the former Senior Director of Shelter Medicine at the ASPCA. Dr. Spindel believes that the world within an animal shelter is rich in opportunity for veterinary education and research integrated with improving the lives of animals. Her research interests are canine influenza virus, upper respiratory diseases and infectious disease management.