Recently, while teaching an online class covering infectious disease management in the shelter, I made a mistake: I assumed that the audience of shelter and veterinary professionals would want to know about things beyond cleaning and disinfecting! I quickly found out that, while the subject may seem basic, questions abound about new products, how to eliminate certain diseases, and how to clean effectively in shelter environments. I could not keep up with all the questions that came in!
When disaster strikes, shelter veterinarians may suddenly find themselves dealing with scores of sick or injured animals in a makeshift medical setting. The work is demanding both physically and mentally, and the rewards—knowing you’ve helped the victims of a hurricane or a hoarding situation—can be great. But disaster response requires more than just good intentions. To be effective, you need proper training, flexibility and adherence to protocols for assessing and treating animals in disaster situations.
In a facility with cracks, leaks and creaks all over, it can be hard to provide the best care for your animals and keep disease from spreading. But like the saying goes, if you can’t change something, change the way you think about it. So until you get that extreme shelter makeover, take other steps to curb disease. Learn how creative retrofitting and routine maintenance, clear cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and organized traffic flow can help keep the microbes from spreading—even in your leaky, creaky, cracking shelter.