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Tools and Resources > Shelter + Rescue Essentials

  • Blog Post

    Good shelter design is good for animals

    The lobby of the Greenville Humane Society is designed to be a retail destination for animal-lovers.

    How your architecture influences visitors and animal flow

    Many of our new animal shelter clients tell us the same story: Their facility is overcrowded, they struggle to reduce numbers without euthanasia and intake numbers continue to be unwieldy. Compounding the issue is the fact that an overcrowded shelter is harder to keep clean and free of disease, yet it’s more difficult to adopt out sick or stressed animals.

    This cycle sounds familiar because it’s one that almost every shelter faces.

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  • Assessment

    Which Groups are Good Candidates for Mentorship?

    While most groups are happy to accept offers of resources, transport support, etc., not every organization is a good candidate for mentorship. To truly embrace the opportunity participation in a Shelter Ally program provides, groups must be willing to accept the recommendations for change and implement mentor group suggestions. Honest and forthright initial conversations must be had in order to determine the prospective mentee’s openness to change.

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  • Magazine Article

    Not your mother’s animal shelter

    After decades of innovation, sheltering has progressed far beyond its ‘dog pound’ roots

    Some longtime animal welfare professionals can remember the days of tiny cinderblock shelters hidden away from the community, bare concrete kennels and unthinkable euthanasia rates. Decades later, shelters leading the field are innovative, creative community centers that tackle animal homelessness at the roots and boast vastly improved live-release rates. How did we get here—and where will we go next?

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  • Blog Post

    Are they getting the care they deserve?

    Using the Five Freedoms to ensure quality of life for animals in our care

    In my days working in a shelter, when I turned out the lights and left at the end of the day, I would ask myself one very important question: “Did I give each and every animal the best possible care today?” 

    I’m guessing you do the same. But how can we be certain? How do we know for sure that any animal is living a good quality life, let alone an animal living in a shelter environment? The answer lies in something called “The Five Freedoms.”

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  • Blog Post

    Finding sanctuary

    Can sanctuaries be a tool in our cat toolbox? An expert shares five top tips.

    From the outside looking in, managing the Lanai Cat Sanctuary sure looks easy. Erect a fence, construct some shelter, landscape, open the doors and call it kitty paradise. Not a month goes by that someone doesn’t ask me: “How do you set one up? I want to do this in my community.” The truth is that animal sheltering is complex, costly and requires expertise in a wide spectrum of disciplines including shelter and herd health management and medicine, nonprofit leadership, fundraising and animal welfare. It’s not as easy as it looks.

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  • Magazine Article

    A room with a view

    A Good Mews Animal Foundation resident checks out a chipmunk.

    Cage-free cat shelter and wildlife habitat peacefully coexist in Georgia

    What do you get when you mix a cat shelter, a barren yard and eager volunteers with green thumbs? A wildlife habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation—or, as community outreach chair Lisa Bass of Good Mews Animal Foundation in Marietta, Georgia, calls it, a “big-screen kitty TV.”

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  • Magazine Article

    Baby love

    Kitten nurseries often specialize in caring for unweaned kittens (commonly referred to as “bottle babies” or “neonates”) who need to be hand fed.

    In its new kitten nursery manual, the National Kitten Coalition provides an in-depth look at innovative solutions for kittens who need extra time and care

    For shelter workers and rescue volunteers around the country, spring can seem the cruelest season. That’s when kitten intakes typically peak.

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  • Magazine Article

    Plumbing the depths

    Shelter drainage systems vary, but they’re key to keeping your shelter clean and your animals healthy

    Shelter work isn’t all sweet puppy kisses and kitten nuzzles. What goes in one end of our furry charges eventually comes out the other, and a well-functioning drainage system is essential if you hope to minimize odors and control the spread of disease at your facility. But there’s more to shelter drains than meets the eye: Which types of drains are best for you, and where should you put them? Our “101” explores what you ought to consider before taking the plunge.

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  • Magazine Article

    Does that tabby come in a size 8?

    This grey tabby didn’t stick around for long—the woman who brought her to the Arizona Humane Society as a stray decided to make her a permanent family member.

    Allison Summerday’s living room and car are full of shoeboxes, but the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) volunteer couldn’t care less about Jimmy Choos. In November 2014, a fellow volunteer brought a single shoebox into the shelter. “I thought, ‘We need shoeboxes for every kitten and cat!’” says Summerday. “I just sort of went on overdrive.”

    Summerday approached several shoe stores and explained her mission. Although not one shoe store turned her away, she now works with just one, Wholesale Fashion Shoes, which was “the most jazzed about it,” she says.

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  • Magazine Article

    Making the shelter a happier place for animals

    Appealing to animals’ five senses and giving them outlets to express their natural behaviors can make them happier and healthier.

    Practical tips on how to help the animals in your care feel good

    We all want the animals in our care to be as healthy and happy as possible. To accomplish this, we must attend to both their physical and emotional needs. We protect the animals’ physical health through routine vaccination, parasite control, proper nutrition, spay/neuter and other basic medical care. We create a healthy environment for them—one that is clean and well-maintained, not crowded, kept at a comfortable temperature and with good air quality.

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  • Guide

    Determining and exceeding capacity

    Use data to improve the care of animals with your rescue group

    Determining Capacity

    According to humane care standards, it takes approximately 15 minutes per day to provide basic care for each animal in a shelter environment (to clean the living environment and provide daily nutrition). So, for example, if you have one hour per day to care for the animals, that means you have the capacity to care for four animals, including your own pets. You can use the UC Davis Virtual Consultant to assess whether your housing for animals is adequate to ensure humane care.

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  • Guide

    Rescue Group Best Practices: standards for primary enclosures

    cat napping in her enclosure

    The physical space that will serve as an animal’s primary enclosure, the place where he will eat, sleep and spend the majority of his time, must be safe, sanitary, and of sufficient size to provide a humane quality of life. IMPORTANT: Cages, crates, and carriers that are intended for travel or short-term, temporary confinement are unacceptable as primary enclosures; it is also unacceptable to keep animals on wire or slatted flooring.

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