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Online Extra - Getting Ready for Inspection

Keeping your facility ship-shape can help you sail through official checkups

Keeping your facility ship-shape can help you sail through official checkups

Properly maintaining animal shelters is not just a matter of doing the right thing for the animals, the employees, and the public; it’s also a matter of staying on the right side of the applicable health and safety regulations.

The regulations vary across the country, but here’s how one state handles shelter inspections.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) performs about 120 inspections of licensed animal facilities (shelters, kennels, pet shops, and "pounds") per year. The department does random inspections and investigates complaints, often with the help of local health departments. The local departments are the lead agencies for routine inspections and inspect every facility at least once a year prior to licensure.

Common infractions include:

  • Improper cleaning and disinfection procedures.
  • Improper segregation and isolation of sick animals.
  • Inadequate record keeping.

When violations of the state administrative code are found:

  • Violations are discussed with the manager of the facility. A written copy of the inspection report, which details the violations, is left at the completion of the inspection. An approximate reinspection time is given to management.
  • Reinspections are conducted until the facility is either in compliance, or until it is determined that management is not making good-faith progress toward compliance, at which time the inspecting entity will consider levying fines or conducting a hearing to revoke the license of the facility.
  • Both license revocation and fines can be appealed to the appropriate court.
  • Once the license is revoked, the municipal officials will work to close the facility and relocate the animals housed there to other facilities.

When shelters struggle to meet the health and safety requirements, the NJDHSS may:

  • Provide handouts, a copy of the regulations, and other informative material that explains how to abate the violations. The department has handouts covering cleaning procedures, disinfection procedures, and record keeping.
  • Discuss specific strategies to improve conditions at the facility.
  • Focus on cleaning and sanitation. Many violations are caused by defects in basic sanitation and housekeeping, which can be easily corrected.
  • Refer management to managers of other facilities that can serve as a resource.
  • Negotiate a written plan for correction with a time line, if major improvements need to be made.
  • Ultimately, if management is unable or unwilling to operate the facility into compliance with the state laws and regulations, the NJDUSS will work with the municipality and local health department to impose penalties, including closure of the facility.

Source: New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services


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