Shelter Standards Task Force

It’s been more than 10 years since the Association of Shelter Veterinarians published their “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters,” a document founded on the ethical principles of the Five Freedoms and now considered the “go to” guide for providing humane care for animals in shelters, rescues, foster homes, and even guide-dog and research facilities. The “Guidelines” have been translated into half a dozen languages, and even incorporated into regulatory language in municipal and state codes.

The ASV is now in the 2nd year of the revision process to update the document, incorporating new research in animal care and welfare, a renewed focus on behavioral care, and updated practices that reflect shifts in the industry in the last decade. The revision authors met in early March in San Diego to finalize section drafts and create a roadmap for publication, with fifteen attending in-person and two on zoom. It was the first in-person meeting since the revision kick-off in Atlanta in February 2020.

Publication of the 2nd edition of the ASV’s Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, along with a checklist and reference materials, is expected later this year.


Members of the Task Force:
top row: Drs. Phillip Bushby, Staci Cannon, Elise Gingrich, Brian DiGangi, Miranda Spindel (on screen), Martha Smith-Blackmore, Cristie Kamiya, Erin Doyle, Nancy Bradley, Jeannette O'Quin
bottom row: Drs. Lena DeTar, Uri Donnett, Elizabeth Berliner, Lucy Fuller, Sheila Sergurson, Chumkee Aziz, Cindy Karsten

not pictured: Drs. Stephanie Janeczko, Brenda Griffin



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  • Provide shelters and communities a tool for self-assessment and improvement
  • Increase consistency of care across US
  • Promote highest standards of welfare, for existing facilities as well as new construction
  • Provide sound reference material for regulatory purposes when communities look for guidance
  • Provide a benchmark for when corrective action is needed
  • Create a living document that will be responsive to developments in shelter medicine and animal care
  • Establish what is required for a decent quality of life for populations of companion animals
  • Dispel notions that high morbidity and mortality from disease and injury is the norm in shelters
  • Connect expectations of sanitation, medical care, and mental/behavioral well-being to acceptable sheltering, and dispel any notion that these essentials are frivolous “extras” or cosmetic

Scope and Intention
  • Apply to any shelter caring for companion animals
  • Written by shelter veterinarians as a tool to help advocate for animal care and well-being more effectively in shelters and communities
  • To be equally important for shelter veterinarians, directors, managers, board members, and members of the community
  • Emphasize the important contributions of shelter medicine for quality animal care
  • Based on the “Five Freedoms”