The Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) has just released “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters.” According to ASV, this document is intended to be a positive tool for shelters and communities to review animal care, identify areas that need improvement, allocate resources and implement solutions so welfare is optimized, euthanasia is minimized, and suffering is prevented.
The report is the result of two years of work that included an exhaustive review of scientific literature by a task force of 14 shelter veterinarians. The ASV says that the authors hope both shelters and communities will look to this document to ensure that all animals in shelters everywhere are properly and humanely cared for.
“The guiding principle was always animals’ needs which remain the same regardless of the mission of an organization or the challenges involved in meeting those needs,” said Sandra Newbury, DVM, chair of the Shelter Standards Task Force.
The foundation for the guidelines is the “Five Freedoms,” developed in 1965 in the United Kingdom as a result of a report by the Brambell commission (which later became the Farm Animal Welfare Council) to address welfare concerns in agricultural settings. The Five Freedoms are now recognized to have much broader application across species.
The guidelines are intended to apply to the full spectrum of sheltering programs, from brick-and-mortar facilities to grassroots rescue efforts or home-based programs.
“The guidelines are designed to achieve outcomes that protect the health and well-being of sheltered animals without defining how individual shelters reach those outcomes,” said Lila Miller, DVM, a Task Force member and an editor of the report. “The report is designed to allow shelters flexibility in achieving these goals.”
The report provides recommendations for 12 broad areas of animal sheltering and care: management and record keeping, facility design and environment, population management, sanitation, medical health and physical well-being, behavioral health and mental well-being, group housing, animal handling, euthanasia, spay/neuter, transport, and public health.
To read the full report, visit the ASV Web site.