Ideally you would have a perfect facility with no illness and limitless funds and manpower to continue operating in that state. Unfortunately, we live in reality and we need to work with what we have. Bummer, right? Well, if you play your cards right, you might be able to get farther than you think. After a class with Dr. Karen Dashfield from Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary in NJ, I walked away with some interesting tips.
If you are a shelter which houses healthy and sick animals, but you don’t have the luxury of separate rooms for quarantine, you can generally use the same room if you follow proper hygiene and sanitation procedures. Most diseases don’t spread from kennel to kennel without the help of humans. If you only have a single room, you can separate it with plastic sheets or shower curtains for extra protection. Just remember to never go from sick hold to healthy cats without changing clothes and booties, and thoroughly washing up.
Studies have shown that when healthy cats were placed in banks of cages in the same room a mere 4 feet from cats with panleukopenia, commonly known as feline distemper, the disease was spread to the healthy cats if no cleaning regulations were in place. However, when people were forced to wash up and change gowns between the sick and healthy groups, none of the healthy cats got sick. People were inadvertently spreading the disease.
The same procedure with plastic also works well at adoption events. Just hang it between your group’s booth and the group next to you to keep animals from being exposed to one another. When it comes to vaccinating and you can only afford to vaccinate again some diseases, not all, you can determine which diseases most commonly occur in your area and concentrate on vaccinating against those. Using a simple dewormer such as Strongid costs an average of about 50 cents per animal. If you need more specified and expensive dewormers, you can diagnose the exact needs of an animal by doing an in-house fecal float for about $1 per animal. If you are the receiving shelter of transport in from another organization, be sure to review the diseases they have in the sending area as well. Also be sure all animals who leave the supplying shelter have necessary vetting prior to getting on the transport in order to keep your facility as healthy as possible. For dogs, Bordetella vaccines are very important, as are heartworm tests if they are coming from areas with common infestations.
When making choices, please remember that practicing preventative care keeps your costs down and adoptions up!