A Shelter Animal's Bill of Rights


In which Outta the Cage lays down the minimum standard of care for shelter animals awaiting forever homes.

The average person has a hazy idea of what an animal shelter is.  Many people imagine a line of outdated municipal buildings, stacked in succession like Lego blocks, where animals are collected, receive subsistence care, lay in their own feces, and receive no enrichment. Others suppose shelters are modern places where animals eat quality food, run and play, and even receive professional veterinary services.

As those of us in rescue know, most shelters fall squarely in the middle of both of those visions. But I’ve been to over 100 animal shelters, and none of them is perfect.

It’s easy to finger-wag at animal care facilities. Like most business operations, their efficacy is often directly correlated to the quality of their leadership. But some shelters are simply plagued by poor funding, remote geographies, and the ever-present lack of demand relative to supply.

As the rescue community works to modernize the shelter system, there are what I’d call “certain inalienable rights” that animals deserve, regardless of the shelter’s circumstances.

I got together with some FOOTCs (Friends of @Outta the Cage, our rescue and networking group) and we discussed problems we’d seen at shelters and how they affected animal happiness and live release rates. We poured more wine and arrived at a list of nine “rights” – that is, basic levels of care to which every shelter animal should be entitled. Clean living conditions. Adequate nutrition. Deliberate efforts to get animals out of the shelter alive.

We call it “A Shelter Animal’s Bill of Rights,” and I’ve posted it below. I think it’s a good step toward gaining consensus on what a “good shelter” really is and, more importantly, its established processes. We need these types of tools to reach #NoKill, and the sooner our operations improve, the soon we can get them all #outtathecage.

View full text version here: outtathecage.org/shelter-animal-bill-of-rights.

Outta the Cage