The Seven Requirements for a Good Animal Shelter
Looking to rescue a pet? Want to save one from a dog or cat shelter? Of course you can adopt from any animal shelter (including Humane Societies, local animal shelters, no kill animal shelters, or smaller, local rescue groups), but pet ownership starts with a good evalutation of the place where you get your new cuddler. A good animal shelter should have the best interest of the pets in mind, and should imbue friendliness and warmth in spirit. Take a look at these requirements:
The local animal shelter you choose should have spayed or neutered the animal upon receiving it. This is a standard protocol for most animal shelters and the low cost is usually built into the adoption fee. See Number 2.
2. Veterinarian Health Care
Compassionate care from skilled/professional people is a must. If a vet is spending his/her free time contributing to the animal welfare goals of a shelter (for little to no money), you know the animal has been well-cared for. Some cats and dogs come in with:
Vets who volunteer at pet adoption shelters are there to ensure that the little sweeties are receiving the health care they need and are healthy enough to go home with you. Most shelters will not let an adopter take an animal home if he/she is not in good condition. You may be allowed to put the animal on hold or get your name on a wait list if the animal isn’t yet well enough to go to your home.
3. Shots/Animal Vaccinations
Relating to Number 2, a cat or dog shelter should also provide a round of shots for the animal. Again, the cost is usually built into the nominal adoption fee. Dogs and cats should both get Rabies and Parvovirus vaccines and Distemper shots; stray cats may also be vaccinated for Herpes and Calici, and dogs may also get Bordatella, Modified Live Virus (MLV). The vaccines really depend on the age of the animal. If your cat will be an outdoor animal, he/she will require additional vaccines which will not come with the shelter’s first round of shots.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness; however, feelings on cleanliness can also be subjective. Some people may want to get an animal the heck out of a dirty shelter while others may feel more comfortable with a shelter that has sparkling cages and unsoiled play areas. Regardless, make sure the litter box and/or cage floor is free from feces and/or urine; otherwise the animal may have been lying down in it, which can cause further bacterial infections. Make sure the animal itself has had good hygiene put in place and doesn’t seem stinky or dirty.
5. Pleasant Staff Who Seems Happy to be There
It is true that cats and dogs have a sixth sense. They sense disaster and human emotions. The happier the person, the happier and more fun-loving the animal. Animals will always reflect the spirit of their owners and that sometimes starts at the shelter. Of course, there will always be some dogs and cats that were abused and seem depressed and afraid. (Personally I think these are the ones who end up with the sweetest demeanors because once they realize they are safe there little personalities come out and they start to mature their emotions.)
6. ASPCA Visits
To verify that your chosen shelter is run effectively and with the animals’ welfare as a first priority, ensure that the shelter is regularly visited by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Humane Societies do not get visits from the ASPCA as they are privately funded national organizations with regional arms, and have their own standards.
Every year the ASPCA visits more than 150 other shelters throughout the country to talk with directors, volunteers and employees. The ASPCA is there to discuss problems and assist the shelter staff with suggestions, materials and resources. It takes a lot more than good intentions to run a shelter, and the ASPCA’s Shelter Outreach team is staffed by seasoned animal welfare professionals who are there to help with sheltering situations in your area.
7. Adopter Screening
Your local animal shelter should always have the pets’ welfare in mind. This includes a full screening of the hopeful adopter. You want to ensure the rescued pet will be going to the best possible environment, i.e., if the cat doesn’t like dogs, it shouldn’t be adopted out to a home where there is a dog. If the dog is afraid of men or was abused, it should be adopted by a woman with a gentle character and lots of free time.