The development of the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters was a three-year project of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. It culminated in the publication of the "Standards" document in December 2010. The document is currently available at the ASV website
Two overriding principles form the basis of the document: the five freedoms and capacity for care. The concept of Five Freedoms originated with the Report of the UK Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of Animals kept under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems, the Brambell Report, December 1965. The concept was subsequently refined by Farm Animal Welfare Council so that it actually took the form of five freedoms. It has since been further updated and is now the most visited page on the Council's Website. These principles are relevant and appropriate measures of welfare for any animal species and we tried to be mindful of this throughout the process.
Every sheltering organization has a maximum capacity for care, and the population in their care must not exceed that level. Capacity for care is determined by many factors including, but not limited to: the number of appropriate housing units; staffing; staff training; financial resources, average length of stay; and the total number of reclaims, adoptions, transfers, release, or other outcomes.
How to Use the Standards Document
Shelter Practices are categorized as: ideal, should, must, or unacceptable.
Overview of the Content of the Standards Document
The Standards document has 12 sections; each dealing with a different aspect of animal sheltering. The primary goal of this document is as a tool for improvement and to assist those who are working on behalf of animals to obtain the support they need from their communities for proper care.
1. Operational Issues (Policies, Protocols, Record Keeping)
2. Facility Design and Environment (Primary enclosures, HVAC, Light, Sound)
3. Population Management (Capacity for Care, Monitoring Statistics)
4. Sanitation (Cleaning, Disinfection, Fomite Control)
5. Medical Health and Physical Well-Being (Preventive health care, emergency care, pain, nutrition, response to disease/illness, population well-being)
6. Behavioral Health and Mental Well-Being (Intake, evaluation, in-shelter care, stress reduction, enrichment, behavior modification)
7. Group Housing
8. Animal Handling
9. Euthanasia (Technique, environment and equipment, record keeping, staff training)
11. Animal Transport (Responsibilities at origin, during transport, at destination)
12. Public Health (Zoonoses, Animal-related injuries, emerging diseases)