A needs-assessment and demographic survey of infection-control and disease awareness in western US animal shelters

Kay K. Steneroden, Ashley E Hill, M. D. Salman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A cross-sectional needs-assessment survey was used to characterize animal shelters in a 6-state region in the western US and describe infection-control practices and disease awareness. Survey questions focused on shelter demographics, infection-control practices and policies, awareness and concern over infectious and zoonotic diseases, staff and volunteer training relating to infection-control and disease awareness, use of diagnostic tools, and isolation procedures and protocols. Fifty percent of shelters responded to the survey and represented a wide variety of shelter types, sizes and locations. The top-three diseases of concern to shelters were feline upper respiratory disease (FURD), canine parvovirus and ringworm. Concern over these diseases was greater in open-admission shelters (compared to limited admission or no-kill/sanctuary) (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.1-12.5) and in shelters with a desire for more zoonotic-disease training (OR = 6.1, 95% CI 1.5-24.8) (compared to shelters desiring infectious-disease training, training on cleaning and disinfection or those who have no need for further training). In 45% of responding shelters many to most animals arrive with infectious diseases. Written protocols for preventive medicine exist in 88% of shelters, cleaning and disinfection protocols in 75%, specific disease protocols for outbreak situations in 36% and infection-control manuals in 15%. Veterinarians are in charge of infection-control in 6% of shelters. Approximately 45% of shelters vaccinate dogs and cats for rabies. Infectious-disease training is provided to 30% of staff and 35% of volunteers upon hire. Overall, volunteers received less training in infectious- and zoonotic-disease identification, prevention and control than staff members. Ninety percent of shelters said they would benefit from training in infectious and zoonotic disease. Results from this study can be used to assess and address needs in animal shelters relating to infection-control, infectious and zoonotic-disease awareness and can help guide development of shelter staff and volunteer training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal shelter
  • Infection control
  • Infectious disease
  • Needs-assessment survey
  • Zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals


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