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Rescue Group Best Practices: shelter-type facilities

For those rescue groups that would like to use a facility to hold some or all of their animals, there are several options. One is to partner with a local pet store for some space. PetSmart Charities and other organizations have programs that include rescue groups as adoption partners, where approved rescue groups can keep animals in their stores. If you do not have either of those stores in your area, talk to a local pet store. It can be a mutually beneficial relationship if done correctly—your animals have a place to stay and they may draw more customers into the store. Just make sure you have a contract in place that lays out what each party is responsible for (e.g., who cleans and cares for the animals, who provides the food, protocol for an emergency) to ensure a peaceful partnership.

Another option is to open your own adoption center or have office space that provides space for some of your animals. Just remember to comply with local laws, such as department of health requirements for facilities that house animals, zoning laws and any other relevant regulations.

It is also vital to comply with humane standards of care. See Standards for Primary Enclosures for information on what constitutes sufficient space in a primary enclosure. For cats, it is important that they have at minimum 2 feet triangulated between their food, resting place and litter. For vertical enclosures or group housing situations, it is important that each cat have at least 18 square feet of space†.

Keep in mind that it is essential to have a plan in place to get any animal whose primary enclosure is a cage into a foster or permanent home as quickly and as appropriately as possible. It is not fair to the animals to leave them in cages for an unlimited period of time. Animals who live in a cage must also receive daily enrichment and socialization.