We all know what a healthy animal looks like, right? What about a healthy facility? Maybe not. A healthy facility is a well-managed shelter where both animals and people have their needs met by ensuring that three basic components are fulfilled:
1. Construct the facility with functional materials that are built to last.
No surprise here, but keeping the place clean is a critical step in keeping animals healthy and adopters happy. It takes time and elbow grease, but when your facility is built right and you have the proper tools readily available, you can accomplish a good cleaning. Simple things like sloping the floor towards the drains and clearing the drains of obstruction prevents them from becoming backed up. Also, check gate hinges regularly. Visually inspect the condition of any surfaces that could become worn and expose hazards like sharp edges.
2. Design for a variety of animal needs with lots of options.
Upon arrival, the initial healthcare protocol for animals should include prompt assessment, triage, treatment, and vaccinations. Following initial workups, move animals to the appropriate holding areas based on their needs: needs treatment, ready-to-go for adoption, requires stray hold, newborn foster care, needs surgery, cruelty hold, etc. Designing and documenting healthcare protocols and animal flowcharts help maintain healthy populations, reduce the number of days in care, and keep everyone on the same page.
3. Provide staff and volunteers with ample training, tools, and effective communication.
Daily communications are critical to managing the health of shelter animals. Whether during morning briefings or afternoon rounds, key staff should huddle to discuss the needs of the day and to ensure a high standard of daily care. Fluid communication both up and down with staff and volunteers is key to successfully maintaining a healthy facility.
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