What are Shelter Standards of Care?

Last year, the national Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) published Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. Originally published in 2010, the new guidelines have been updated to incorporate advances in science and research now used in modern sheltering.

Charleston Animal Society’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lucy Fuller, served as president of the ASV and was on the team that wrote the guidelines. Each guideline falls into one of four categories: Unacceptable, Must, Should and Ideal. “Shelters should start by looking at ‘Unacceptable’ and ‘Must” categories and improving those, then move on to ‘Should’ and ‘Ideal,’ but doing this can cost money,” Fuller said.

The ASV says the goal of the standards are to provide:

  • a set of common standards for the care and welfare of companion animals in shelters based on scientific evidence and expert consensus
  • guidance that helps animal welfare organizations reduce overcrowding, stress, disease, and improve safety
  • a tool for animal welfare organizations and communities to assess and improve their shelters
  • references for creating regulations and statutes around sheltering, and benchmarks for organizational change
  • guidance for animal housing in existing facilities and priorities for the design of new construction
  • a living document that responds to developments in shelter medicine and animal care research and practice.

The new set of standards are based on the “Five Domains” model, derived from the “Five   Freedoms.”

According to the ASV, “The standards illustrate how better or worse nutrition, environment,  physical health,  and  behavioral opportunities combine to inform an animal’s mental state, which, in turn, informs their overall welfare.”

The standards of care document is broken down into 13 specific areas for review:

  1. Management and Record Keeping
  2. Population Management
  3. Animal Handling
  4. Facilities
  5. Sanitation
  6. Medical Health
  7. Shelter Surgery
  8. Forensics
  9. Behavior and Mental Well-Being
  10. Euthanasia
  11. Animal Transport and Relocation Programs
  12. Disaster Response
  13. Public Health

You can download the ASV Standards of Care at CarolinaTails.com/ASV-Standards-of-Care