Daily Rounds

Whether you have been working in a shelter for years or today is your first day, you have likely noticed that managing the health and wellbeing of the many animals under our care can be a daunting task. Performing daily rounds is an excellent way to keep your team informed and help ensure that every animal stays as happy and healthy as possible. This efficient method of physically observing every animal on a daily basis will facilitate decision-making, as well as each animal’s path towards adoption.

How are they helpful?

We know that shelters can be stressful environments, which can facilitate susceptibility to disease. To lend to that, animals of all ages and health statuses enter and leave our facilities on a regular basis. Daily rounds are a great way to ensure that animals are remaining healthy or are receiving and responding to treatments in a timely manner. By observing every animal every day, new illness can be detected early and in the case of infectious disease, potentially prevent shelter-wide outbreaks.

yellow lab

How do you do it?

The very nature of animal sheltering requires a team effort and effective communication to ensure the successful adoption of animals entering ours shelters. Daily rounds is an essential method of not only monitoring the health of each animal, but also is an opportunity to discuss that animal’s plan with a variety of team members with a goal of expediting the path towards adoption. Although there is no right or wrong way to perform daily rounds, they are typically held at least once daily, where every animal is observed in its enclosure and a brief history of the animal is reported. The current and future status of that animal is then discussed as a team with any needed actions recorded and initiated.

Who should come?

Because of the various needs of the animals, any staff member involved in decision-making should participate in daily rounds. This may include medical staff, behavior staff, managers, directors, adoption staff, and animal control officers. Although it will typically only take a few minutes to “round” about each animal, for shelters with large populations these minutes can quickly turn into hours. Dividing team members to cover different shelter populations may be the best viable option. Any serious concerns can then be reported to the entire group at a later time.

kittens in cage

Is that all there really is to it?

Yes! It’s daily observation and discussion of each animal that can make all the difference in keeping the animals and shelter at their healthiest. However, you and your team decide to perform daily rounds, consider organizing your team and get started today!

Don’t Be A Martyr

guy sneezingOne of the top priorities of shelter staff is the prevention of illness and spread of disease among the shelter population. Strong emphasis is put on cleaning and disinfection, personal protection equipment, low-stress environments, and safe animal handling. But when considering the shelter population, most staff fail to make the same commitment to keeping themselves healthy as they do for the animals. This is particularly devastating for shelters that are already understaffed and then have to deal with a human outbreak of the cold and flu virus.

According to Gallup, for December 2014 the daily cold and flu reports averaged 4% and 11% of Americans respectively – the highest since 2008 when Gallup first started tracking them. To add insult to injury, the flu vaccine is only 18% effective this year according to the CDC. This year the H3N2 flu virus has been predominant prompting experts to suspect that this year’s flu season could be characterized as severe. H3N2 viruses were predominant during 2011-2012, 2007-2008, and 2003-2004 – the three seasons with the highest mortality rate in the past decade.

So how do we prevent ourselves from getting sick? The simple precautions doctors have been telling us for years still hold true today. swine-flu-mask-for-cat-011813

No touchy: Avoid people who are sick and wash your hands. Shaking hands or touching things used by infected people then touching your eyes or mouth will pretty much guarantee transmission. So sing Happy Birthday to yourself while washing and wash often.

Sleep well, eat well, and get plenty of exercise: Obviously this is the key to good health not just in flu season, but every season.

Vaccinate yourself: Despite it’s low efficacy this year, the flu vaccine can lessen the severity of symptoms. Also, the more people vaccinated the more it leads to herd immunity.

Stay home: If you do get hit with a virus, do yourself and co-workers a favor and stay home. Most people find this the hardest to abide by. They see the short term difficulties of fellow staff members getting all the work done. But in the long run it will be a lot more beneficial to have just one person out sick than the entire staff at some point.

Long story short, don’t be a martyr. The shelter will run without you for a couple of days while you get better.