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The ASV Guidelines in Real Life: The Foster On-Deck System

  • Collage: Bussolati; Images: shutterstock.com

When kittens who are too young to be adopted show up at the shelter, what if all you needed to do was call the person who signed up to take foster kittens that day to say, “They’re here!”? What if, instead of putting the kittens in a general housing area at the shelter, introducing them to whatever infectious diseases and stressors might be waiting, you could examine the kittens, screen them for potential problems, and send them right into the protective care of a trained foster parent?

What if you could schedule all the points of care the kittens will need before they even leave the building?

This kind of efficient system can be put in place, with some hard work, proactive recruitment, and excellent planning. The payoff for the kittens lasts them a lifetime. And there’s a positive ripple effect for all the other animals in the shelter, which can be measured in increased capacity for care, decreased risk of infectious disease, more time for enrichment, and even opportunities for improved housing.

This kind of system is at the heart of population management. According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, “Population management describes an active process of planning, on-going daily evaluation, and response to changing conditions as an organization cares for multiple animals. Effective population management requires a plan for intentionally managing each animal’s shelter stay that takes into consideration the organization’s ability to provide care … ”

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