The risks for dogs’ health and welfare when housed in a shelter environment, especially for long periods of time, are now well recognised. A poor environment and inappropriate management may lead to a low quality of life. The absence of harmonised European regulatory frameworks defining the minimum requirements for shelter facilities makes the definition of welfare standards for kennelled dogs challenging.
The ‘Shelter Quality’ is a protocol developed and tested to help identify the main welfare issues for shelter dogs. Twenty-six indicators were identified including management, resource and animal based measures. The protocol could potentially help to identify welfare hazards in shelter environments. Inappropriate space allowance, for example, was found to be a risk factor potentially affecting the animal’s cleanliness, skin condition and body condition. Systematic data collection could help identify welfare problems that are likely to arise in certain shelter designs and thus determine improvement in animal care standards. To read the paper click Barnard et al. Veterinary Records, 178: 18-26.
Photo credits Shanis Barnard