And the Survey Says...Maddie's Shelter Medicine Survey Summary
During the summer and fall of 2010, Maddie's Fund® asked its funded partners and newsletter subscribers to help us better understand their needs when it comes to shelter health information and resources.
There were 171 respondents to the survey. Thirty-two percent of respondents handle fewer than 500 animals each year. Organizations handling between 500 and 1,000 animals numbered 15%; and those who handle between 1,000 and 3,000 came in at 16%. Thirteen percent of the organizations that responded handle 3,000 to 6,000 animals; 11% handle between 6,000 and 10,000; and the remaining 13% handle more than 10,000 animals each year.
The majority of the respondents house animals primarily in a stand-alone shelter facility (53%). However, 21% of respondents divided animal housing equally between a shelter facility and foster homes. That means that 74% of the respondents utilized a facility of some sort. Only 17% of respondents cared for their animals primarily in a foster home setting.
When respondents were asked where they go to get health care information for their animals, 94% said they go to their veterinarian and 46% indicated that they go to a website resource. Furthermore, when asked if their organization utilized the services of a veterinarian to oversee and manage the health care of the animals, 88% of respondents said yes - a welcome, surprisingly large percentage.
Of those organizations that utilize a veterinarian, the majority (63%) use full-time staff veterinarians, 54% use part-time staff veterinarians, 64% use contract veterinarians and 47% use volunteer veterinarians. Many organizations use a combination of each.
Although there seems to be a significant use of veterinarians for the care of homeless animals, only 45% of respondents utilize the expert services of a CVT/RVT. Of those organizations that do utilize CVT/RVT professionals, they primarily utilize them between 50 and 320 hours per month.
Keeping good medical records has been an issue for animal shelters as they become more professional in providing medical care to shelter animals. It was reassuring that the majority of respondents kept computerized medical records (54%). A significant percentage of respondents continue to keep handwritten medical records (46%). In this survey only 1% of responding organizations did not keep any form of medical records.
When asked about vaccination practices, 64% said they vaccinate all animals within 24 hours of admission (not including puppies and kittens under the age of 4 weeks). Twenty-nine percent of respondents vaccinate only some animals within 24 hours of admission, which included 17% vaccinating greater than 50% of the animals and 12% vaccinating less than 50% of the animals within 24 hours of admission. Only 6% of responding organizations did not vaccinate animals within 24 hours of admission.
Some of the reasons for not vaccinating animals within 24 hours of admission included: they are a county run shelter, the animal may be ill or injured, the transfer organization vaccinates them before they transfer, they are primarily a foster home network, the animal is already vaccinated, and the spay/neuter clinic is only open once a week for vaccines. Financial reasons for not vaccinating were given by 30% of respondents.
When asked about performing behavior assessments on animals, 81% of respondents said they do perform behavior assessments, with 51% of them using their own, informal method and 31% of them using the SAFER/Modified SAFER method.
The majority of respondents (89%) spay and neuter all their dogs and cats prior to adoption (excluding rare exceptions for medical reasons). The minimum age that most of these organizations (64%) recommend spaying and neutering is eight weeks (or at least two pounds).
Not including veterinary medical staff (CVT/RVT and DVM), 59% of organizations set aside time for staff member professional development. The time allotted for this was variable, with most between 16 and 25 hours (29%) and six to ten hours (23%) per year per employee.
When asked if anyone on their staff had watched or attended a webinar, 59% of respondents said yes. For those who said no, the majority (47%) said they were unaware of the availability. Webinars that people watched included topics in shelter operations and management, specifically health care and husbandry (cleaning protocols, disease control, shelter diseases, vaccinations, behavior assessments, behavior enrichment, animal transport, pediatric spay/neuter, TNR), and shelter business practices like marketing, adoptions, social networking, event planning, getting grants, volunteer management/recruitment and customer service. Other topics included shelter law, no-kill options, board governance, building a better board, and hoarding.
For those who have watched or attended a webinar, 90% said they like the format of the webinar. Thirty-five percent said their time limit for watching a webinar is 60 minutes while 26% said 90 minutes was their upper limit.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said that web-based resources for the dissemination of information relevant to shelter health are "very useful." Out of the 123 respondents that rated, the majority categorized each of the following as extremely helpful:
- Webinar presentations
- Short educational videos
- Downloadable information sheets
- Informational links to expert sites
- Web-based assessment tools
- Continuing education certificates
The resources of interest include:
- Behavior (84%)
- Contagious Infectious Diseases (80%)
- Treatable-Rehabilitatable Diseases (71%)
- Wellness (69%)
- Enrichment (65%)
- Treatment Protocols (64%)
- Treatable-Manageable Diseases (63%)
- Cleaning and Disinfection (60%)
- Outbreak Response Information (59%)
- Parasitic Diseases (59%)
- Vaccine Protocols (59%)
- Zoonotic Diseases (53%)
- Population Management (51%)
- Disaster Preparation (45%)
- Asilomar Classification of Animals (32%)
Thanks to all who participated in the survey!