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  • Rescue or home must provide an environment that is conducive to maintaining animal health. 

  • Facilities must be appropriate for the species, the number of animals receiving care, and the expected length of stay. 


Primary Enclosure (this can be a home, a room in a home, etc.)

  • Enclosure must be structurally sound and maintained in safe, working condition to properly confine animals, prevent injury, keep other animals out, and enable animals to remain dry and clean. 

  • Facilities should be safe and free from obvious hazards. There must be no sharp edges, gaps, or other defects in an enclosure that could cause an injury or trap a limb or other body part.  

  • There must be secure latches or other secure closing devices. 

  • Animals must be given the opportunity to eliminate outside their enclosure or they must be able to sit, sleep, and eat away from areas where they defecate and urinate. 

  • Sufficient space must be provided to allow each animal, regardless of species, to make normal postural adjustments (e.g., turn freely, easily stand, sit, and move head without touching top of the enclosure). Animals can lie in a comfortable position with limbs extended, move about, and assume a comfortable posture for feeding, drinking, urinating, and defecating. 

  • Food and water bowls or suitable alternative receptacles must be provided. 

  • Cats must have litter boxes large enough to comfortably accommodate their entire body. 

  • Cats must have places to hide. 

  • Outdoor spaces must be suitably enclosed, if animals are left outdoors unattended. 

  • All animal areas must have non-porous surfaces that can be easily disinfected and are durable enough to withstand repeated cleanings – especially important in areas where puppies, kittens, and animals that are infectious or newly admitted are housed. For a home-based system, sanitary conditions must be maintained, and any at risk animals should be kept only in areas that can be properly sanitized. 



  • Crates or cages stacked upon each other in a manner that increases animal stress and discomfort, compromises ventilation, or allows waste material to fall from the cage above into the cage below. 

  • Wire-mesh bottoms or slatted floors used for cats and dogs. 

  • Tethering used as a means of confinement. 

  • Cages or crates intended for short-term temporary confinement or travel used as primary enclosures. 

  • Animals kept outside in an unsecured environment.

Surfaces and Drainage 

  • Adequate drainage must be provided. 

  • Drains located in common areas must be carefully cleaned and disinfected prior to allowing animals to access the area. 

  • For home-based systems, animals must not be kept in wet areas; outdoor areas must have appropriate drainage and dry areas, and indoor areas must be cleaned in a way that prevents animals from standing in water or contacting cleaning solutions.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Quality


  • Each animal must be monitored individually for comfort and to ensure he or she is maintaining proper body temperature. 

  • To ensure animal comfort and safety, necessary measures must be taken immediately when an animal appears to be too hot or too cold. 

  • Ventilation must be maintained to ensure clean air is provided in all areas of the rescue or home.  Ammonia levels should be low, and must not exceed 25ppm in any area.

  • All ventilation systems must be adequately maintained. 

  • Ventilation must be accomplished without compromising the maintenance of the animals’ body temperatures. 

Sound Control 

  • Caregivers are instructed to avoid creating excessive noise during routine activities. 

  • If sound-absorbent materials are used, they must be durable enough to permit repeated cleaning. 


Attard, Esther, et al. “Canadian Standards of Care in Animal Shelters: Supporting ASV Guidelines.” Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.


“Facility Design, Shelter Animal Housing and Shelter Population Management.” Shelter Medicine Program. University of Wisconsin Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine.


Volin, Abby. “Rescue Group Best Practices Guide.” Animal Sheltering. Humane Society of the United States.

Primary Enclosure
Surfaces and Drainage
Heating, Ventilation and Air Quality
Sound Control
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