Shelters and animal rescues do their best to improve the welfare and happiness of their animals. However, due to low funding, few volunteers, and overcrowding, mismanaged shelters may contribute to animals’ development of bad behavior, poor habits, and anxiety. Animal shelter best practices guides exist, many fail to address some necessary aspects of shelter dog maintenance, as well as the important decisions shelter owners make daily. We have accumulated a list of ways to improve your shelter, thus positively affecting animal wellness and wellbeing.
- Switch to limited-admit. Not many people understand what it means to be a limited-admit shelter; many understand them only as “no-kill” shelters, which is only one characteristic of the designation. A limited-admit shelter will only take the animals they can comfortably accommodate. When space fills up, they stop taking animals. This is an excellent way to reduce costs, generate space, and improve the care each animal receives.
- Start a fostering program. Implementing a fostering system is a wonderful, cheap, and meaningful to create space and conserve resources. The shelter can still accept animals, but they are placed in short-term homes. This can also lead to an easier adoption process; animals housed in shelters often develop behaviors specific to shelter life, and living in a home allows their personalities to develop more fully. Meeting a potential pet in a shelter is a drastically different experience than meeting them in a foster home.
- Implement a daily exercise routine. If your shelter specializes in dog adoptions, you must incorporate daily exercise into their lives. If you have the resources, the best way to do this is to build an open (but fenced) space outside. Design exercise shifts around temperament and anxiety to prevent fights and other aggressive behaviors. If you do not have the ability to build an outdoor space, search for volunteer dog walkers.