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Benchmarks of a Good Shelter

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach

The old adage, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” has never been more apt than when one is evaluating a shelter. A shelter cannot be judged by either its name or its appearance.

The first indication of a good animal shelter is mandatory sterilization of all animals. This includes both males and females as well as purebred animals. No responsible shelter will adopt animals without making provisions for their sterilization. Ideally, all animals leaving a shelter should be sterilized prior to being sent into their new homes. The revolving door syndrome of adopting out one animal only to get six of its offspring back at a later date is patently self-defeating.

Additionally, a good shelter will:

  • Work diligently to place as many animals as possible into responsible, loving homes.
  • Distribute a variety of educational materials on proper pet care, animal behavior issues and overpopulation. These references will be disseminated not only to those people adopting or giving up pets, but to the general public also through community education and outreach programs.
  • Be well maintained and have a cheerful, bright appearance.
  • Have hours that are convenient to the most people possible.
  • Have a comprehensive health care program that includes both treatment of sick animals and preventive inoculations and medication.
  • Ensure that the animals in its care are clean, dry, and as comfortable as possible.
  • Aim to reduce stress for the animals in its care through grooming, exercise, behavioral enrichment, separation of species, and general tender loving care.
  • Have a friendly, inviting staff that is willing and able to assist the public.

A good shelter is not merely content to deal with animal problems after the fact. A good shelter should be involved in all aspects of animal care and pet ownership and should aim to educate people about animals. In short, a shelter’s job is to get people to see the consequences of their actions so that animal suffering is prevented, not merely soothed.

© 2000 ASPCA

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424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128-6804

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