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The ASV Guidelines in Real Life: Safe and Sound

Creating a healthy shelter environment for animals and people

  • Hand sanitizer station

    Putting hand sanitizer stations near exits and animal housing areas—where people won’t have to go out of their way to use them—is a smart practice. Use friendly signage to explain their purpose and encourage their use. VIKIRI/

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 sixth 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. The other stories in this series can also be found on

As shelter professionals, we dedicate a great deal of time to ensuring the health and wellness of the animals in our care. But we also have a responsibility to protect the people who enter our shelters. It takes thousands of staff and volunteers to care for the millions of animals who pass through shelter doors each year—and that’s just the folks working in-house. Now consider the millions of people who come in to search for a lost pet, adopt a new one, or attend a shelter event. The ASV guidelines note that it "is essential that animal shelters take necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of animals, people, and the environment in the shelter as well as in the community. An organization’s mission should never be achieved at the expense of public health and safety."

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