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The ASV Guidelines In Real Life: Staff Training Saves Lives

How Frederick County Animal Control keeps its staff up to speed

  • Most shelters can’t afford to send all of their staff to training conferences like Animal Care Expo—but they can often send a few people, and have those staff members share what they’ve learned once they return. Gabe LeBlanc

In 2010, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) released a document several years in the making: Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. Developed by a roster of veterinary experts, the guidelines are designed to “balance animal welfare science with practical and realistic recommendations for shelters,” and to provide a vision based on the needs of animals—which, the authors noted, remain the same regardless of how individual organizations’ missions and resources may differ. Here, we feature the fifth in a series of stories using real-life shelter examples to demonstrate how the ASV guidelines can be applied within the sheltering and rescue field to create better and more humane outcomes for the creatures we care for.

Anyone who has worked in a well-managed shelter will tell you: Caring for a population of shelter animals is a tall order. There is so much more to animal care than filling a bowl with dog chow or dumping out a litter box. Every day brings new challenges and situations you don’t expect.

Some shelters meet those challenges better than others. In facilities where animal care isn’t ideal, the problem is often inadequate staff training. Given the many elements of sheltering that require careful attention to detail, proper training, standard operating procedures, and staff experience are necessary to ensure high-quality care.

Turnover in shelters can be high, so many shelters constantly have new staff in need of training. Indeed, even the most seasoned staff and qualified caregivers need to keep learning to stay on top of new developments that will help them provide better care for their animals. Even staff who are highly motivated to do good work cannot do so unless they are empowered with the proper training and experience.

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