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:
Capacity for care and adoption-driven capacity
The importance of daily rounds
Ways to reduce length of stay, for example, "Foster on Deck" and "Fast Track" programs
Top Tips from This Webinar
A Plan for One and a Plan for All
The guidelines recommend "intentionally managing each animal's shelter stay" while also having a plan for the organization. For example, a shelter may take in a single underage kitten and place him in foster care during his stray hold period. If he's brought back only for neuter surgery, microchipping, and an exam, he'll avoid spending a lot of time in the shelter and will have less chance of getting sick. The bonus: The shelter as a whole will save time and resources.
The Power of Numbers
A seemingly minor change in the average length of stay can make a drastic difference in a shelter's average daily population. With an average daily intake of 10 and an average length of stay of 5 days, the average daily population will be 50. If the daily intake of animals stays flat while the length of stay jumps to 10 days, the daily population will double to 100; so, by increasing the length of stay by just five days, the number of animals doubles. The good news is, by becoming more efficient, shelters can lower average population numbers while providing good care.
Speed Animals' Path through the Shelter
The Animal Rescue League of Boston implemented a "Fast Track for Cats" program as part of several efforts to decrease length of stay and lower daily population numbers. To reduce overall length of stay for all cats, staff moved the most adoptable ones through the shelter more quickly. "Fast Track" cats include kittens (year round), and healthy young adults (outside of kitten season). When they are put first in line for veterinary exams, kittens can leave the shelter very quickly, allowing more space and resources to be devoted to the longer-term residents.
Shake Up Your Schedule
The San Francisco SPCA used to perform spay and neuter surgeries on returning foster kittens on Sundays, making them available for adoption on Mondays – not usually a busy day for adoptions. When staff switched the surgery day to Thursdays and Fridays, that meant:
The kittens found homes more quickly because they were available in time for the weekend.
There were fewer kittens in the shelter each day.
Spay/neuter capacity was increased.
Because their length of stay decreased, many fewer kittens got sick upon their return from foster care.
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.
Director, University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program
Dr. Newbury joined the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 as a clinical assistant professor and director of the shelter medicine program. She helped to build the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis from 2006-2014, and served 6 years on the board of directors of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. Dr. Newbury is passionate about saving lives and stomping out disease, and focuses on partnerships between shelters, veterinarians and the community to decrease shelter intake and improve positive outcomes for homeless animals.