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Capacity for Care 


  • Facilities and foster homes of any organization has a maximum capacity for humane care based on its ability to meet the Five Freedoms. 

  • This capacity is influenced by:

    • The animals’ physical and behavioural needs;

    • Physical space available; 

    • Caregiver ability and time for husbandry and training; 

    • The presence of other animals; 

    • Adoption and transfer options;

    • Funding and other resources which may influence the care of the animal; 

    • Foster coordination and other administrative resources. 

  • An organization’s capacity may fluctuate depending on these factors. 

    • At any given time, the organization MUST know its overall capacity and that of each of its foster homes and facilities. 



  • Exceeding the organization’s capacity for humane care. 

  • Breeding of animals for the production of offspring.

Protocols for Maintaining Adequate Capacity for Care 

  • Rescue must have policies and protocols to maintain adequate capacity for care and housing. 

  • Policies must provide a means of balancing admission with the outcomes available (e.g., adoption, transfer, release, returns to owner, euthanasia, or others). 

  • Inspection of all animals must be performed daily in order to routinely evaluate and monitor adequacy of capacity and to identify needs for housing, care, or service. 

  • Appropriate interventions must be made before animal numbers exceed the capacity for care and housing. 

Monitoring Statistical Data 
  • Statistics must include monthly intake (e.g., stray, owner-surrendered) and outcomes by type (e.g., adoption, euthanasia, returned to owner) for each species. 


Newbury SP. Population Management for Shelter Animal Health & Welfare. Proceedings of the Western Veterinary Conference, 2009.

Newbury SP. Animal flow-through and capacity planning. Proceedings of the Western States Veterinary Conference, 2009a.

Newbury S. and Hurley K. Chapter 8: Population Management. In: Miller L., Zawistowski S. (eds). Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff. Second Edition, Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing, 2013

UCDavis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Calculating Shelter Capacity. 2015.

Capacity for Care
Protocols for Maintaining...
Monitoring Statistica Data
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