Animal ShelterBy definition an animal shelter is an organization which cares for strays and other homeless pets and seeks to find permanent homes for them. This being the definition, why are we seeing horror stories coming out of animal shelters of sick and malnourished animals, animals kept in such horrendous conditions; no heat or ventilation, dirty, cramped cages, animals killed using inhumane methods by uncaring shelter employees?

There is something wrong with our society when we refuse to acknowledge these atrocities and allow them to continue to happen!

Animals in shelters are usually frightened and scared. Many have been abused or neglected. The live and breathe and most of all, they feel! They hurt and feel abandoned. Animals that would so quickly and willingly give unconditional love and companionship, tossed aside like garbage. They deserve some dignity, some care and they deserve to be dealt with by people who have a heart.

I came across some information from United States Animal Protection that gives the basic humane standards for animal shelters. There’s nothing here difficult to follow and these are just basics, the minimum standards that should and must be adhered to.

Recommendations for Humane Sheltering Standards

1. Animals entering shelters and rescue

Humane sheltering protocol should always consider the animals health, safety, and administration of drugs when shelter animals must be euthanized.

Every consideration should be given to each individual life. When an animal can be adopted or accepted by rescue the animal should be released to a properly licensed rescue or acceptable home. Every breed of animal should be given consideration for rescue.

2. Adequate food source and health condition of animals.

Upon entering the shelter the animal condition should be evaluated and a determination should be made if veterinarians services are required or if the animal is too sick or injured and should be euthanized. Every animals condition should be documented and photographed and entered into a ledger and filed by date.

The animals entering the shelter should be given food and water and an amount that is sufficient to that animals health and well being.

Food chart for Dogs

Weight of Dog (lbs) – Suggested Daily Amount

3 to 10 lbs – 1/4 to 2/3 Cup

10 to 20 lbs – 2/3 to 1 Cup

20 to 30 lbs – 1 to 1 1/2 Cups

30 to 40 lbs – 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 Cups

40 to 60 lbs – 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 Cups

60 to 80 lbs – 2 1/2 to 3 Cups

80 to 100 lbs – 3 to 3 1/2 Cups

> 100 lbs – 3 1/2 Cups +

Food chart for cats

Weight of Cat (lbs) – Suggested Daily Amount

3 to 6 lbs – 1/4 to 1/3 Cup

7 to 12 lbs – 1/3 to 1/2 Cup

13 to 18 lbs – 1/2 to 3/4 Cup

3. Records, intake, outgoing, rescue and adoptions.

Intake out take records should be kept of every animal especially breeds that can be sold illegally by shelter employees. For example; pure bred unaltered animals sold for breeding purposes, animals for fighting purposes or bait dogs or surplus animals to class b dealers.

Photo documentation of every animal entering and leaving the facility with the adopter or rescuer should be kept in records. The shelter staff should submit pictures of animals entering the shelter to the shelters web site. Every animal should be entered into PetFinder.

Addresses of adopters and rescuers should be kept where the animal will reside.

Municipal shelters are tax run facilities and consideration of tax payers concerned for animals should be held into account and shelter staff should allow volunteers to assist with care of animals held in the shelter.

4. Release of animals from shelters, spay and neuter of animals.

Upon release of animals an agreement must be signed to adopter. Animals must be transported from shelter to veterinarians office for spay or neuter before the animal is released to new guardian. Records should be kept of adoptions and fees which will be applied to cost of surgery.

5. Vaccinations, sick animals, rescue alerts and, humane euthanasia for sick or injured animals.

Vaccinations should be given to healthy animals upon entering the shelter and sick animals should be separated from the healthy. Injured or sick animals should be evaluated by specialist that can determine if the animals is suffering from an mortal injury or imminent death and it should be determined if the animal should be euthanized immediately to end suffering. If an animal is taken in that is injured or sick, rescue groups should be alerted and given the option to vet the animal.

6. Stopping the spread of disease throughout the shelter.

Floors should be sealed, cement floors are porous and harbor bacteria. Proper sanitary conditions should be kept in each pen. Animals should be removed from pens while cleaning. It should be required animals are kept off cold floors, especially nursing mothers. Tundra beds are recommended.

7. Temperatures of shelters and transport vehicles and capture of animals.

Shelter temperatures and shelter transport vehicle temperatures should be at a level so as to maintain optimal health and comfort and prevent death from heat exhaustion or freezing. When an animal cannot be captured the animal should be tranquilized with a non lethal method. Gun shot should not be used to kill an animal that cannot be captured. All humane methods of capture should be used. Catch poles should be used with care so as not to injure the animal.

8. Animal Shelter Employees

Animal shelter employees back grounds should be checked and have no animal cruelty convictions against them.

Animals shelter staff should be offered a questionnaire that will show level of concern of animals. Shelter staff should be hired that display compassion for animals.

9. Hold time of animals and owner turn-ins

Animals should be held the recommended time by state and if room is left in the shelter animals should be held and rescue contacted. Every possible resource should be used to save the animal. Owner turn-ins should not be immediately killed and released to rescue if rescue is available.

10. Records and euthanasia

Records of scheduled II narcotics is mandatory and is expected from every shelter in the United States. The drugs used to anesthetize or euthanize must not be left out for the public and two staff members should be involved when removing the drugs from a locked cabinet. Conditions where animals are euthanized should be kept sanitary with adequate equipment to ensure a humane disposition of the animal.

When euthanizing by inter Peritoneal and administering only 1 to 2 ccs of sodium pentobarbital per 10 lbs of body weight this would be less than the required dosage and should be declared an insufficient amount of sodium pentobarbital to cause death. Intercardiac (IC injection) heartstick is not recommended as a method of euthanasia by shelter staff. Repeated problems have occurred by shelter employees when using this method. When IC is administered by a veterinarian the animal should be comatose. Gassing, shooting and killing by blunt force trauma is a method that should never be used to control population of animals and is considered cruel.

IV is considered the most humane way to euthanize and if an animal will be killed in any particular shelter or facility IV is the acceptable procedure. Scales should be used to determine weight of animals before euthanizing an animal.

The Sternberg method of testing animals should not be used to determine the death of an animal. The Sternberg test is not reliable and should not be the determining factor of whether an animal should live or die. Fear in animals should be considered and ample time should be given to the animals to become acclimated in a calm environment before considering death.

Letter from U.S. Animal Protection to all Animal Shelters.

Animals when euthanized improperly suffer extremely horrible deaths. We at United States Animal Protection want all animals that enter shelters to be given every available resource to be rescued or adopted.

Mass killing and releasing animals to laboratories that may be lost, abandoned or given up by the uncaring public to laboratories should never be an option and it contradicts what the majority of the American public want for animals that enter municipal shelters.

Pound Seizure and Mass killing represents the antithesis of what a shelters purpose is and what is deemed acceptable or humane. Rescue and adoption should be the fist option and when necessary euthanasia should be what is considered humane. I speak for all rescuers and activist, we that have consideration and compassion for animals suffer the deepest depths of despair along with the animals and hear their cries for help. Please join us now and treat all animals with the dignity and respect they deserve in life and in death.

Is this really too much to ask, that animals receive the basic minimum care and consideration?   Municipal shelters are run on our money! It’s up to us to demand proper procedures and care.  Even private shelters and rescues, which usually offer higher standards, should at least be monitored.  The only priority should be the animals in the shelter’s care!

For many of them, approximate 4 million plus annually, this is their last stop, let’s give them the best we can, at the very minimum, a humane and painless death after every effort has been exhausted to find a home for them.

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