Considerations When Determining the Path of an Animal through Our Shelter

When an animal enters a shelter, staff gathers information from a variety of sources to determine if the animal is healthy and safe for adoption. On intake, staff requests behavior and medical information from the previous guardian or Good Samaritan who brought the animal to the shelter. During the medical intake examination, the animal’s health, vaccination history, and behavior are documented. In addition, volunteers and staff who interact with the animal during daily care document the animal’s response to people and other animals and any health concerns. Standardized behavior evaluations may also be conducted to gain additional insight into the animal’s behavior. Shelter professionals use all available information to make an informed decision on placement of healthy and safe animals into an adoption program. The following are taken into consideration when decisions are being made:

Non-Intervention – If we choose not to, or are unable to, treat a behavior or medical condition, what will the impact be on this animal? Will the animal have freedom to express normal behavior and the freedom from fear and distress?

Benefit of Treatment – If we treat a behavior or medical condition, what will the impact be on this animal? Will treatment result in freedom from pain, injury or disease and result in a comfortable life for the animal, both physically and in regard to level of anxiety?

Reasonable for an Average Adopter to Manage – Can we expect an adopter to take on the medical or behavioral issue with average knowledge, resources, and skill set? What follow up will be required? What is the chance for long-term success? Can we appropriately message the concern to prospective adopters? Does this animal have an advocate (staff/volunteer/ supporter) who is willing to take responsibility beyond what the average adopter is willing or able to assume?

Resources – If we treat the animal’s behavior or medical condition, what is the impact on the the ability to help other animals?

Liability/Reasonable Risk – Will this animal be safe in the community? What is the risk to the community by placing this animal?