The ASV Guidelines in Real Life: Taking Them In
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 standards 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 third 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.
A growing body of scientific knowledge indicates that the way a shelter handles animals at intake has a profound impact on their behavior, health, and well-being. In many instances, it will impact an individual animal’s ultimate outcome, and in some cases, it could affect the health of an entire shelter population.
Shelters can be very stressful environments for incoming animals, filled with an assortment of novel stimuli, including strange noises, odors, sights, and other upsetting elements. In addition, the risk of exposure to infectious agents is often high. And when animals are simultaneously stressed and exposed to disease, they are more likely to become ill since stress compromises the immune response.
The ASV Guidelines emphasize that intake is a critical time for animals in shelters, enumerating the practices that are crucial to ensuring their health and welfare as they enter. Here, we explore some of these intake care standards and take a look at how various sheltering organizations have put them into action to improve outcomes.