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Ethical Principles
Ethical Principles

In order to prevent animal cruelty and ensure public safety, shelters and rescues must continue to focus on the welfare of all animals in their care. Consider the following: 

  • A shelter/rescue operator strives to achieve high standards of animal care.

  • A shelter/rescue operator has formal or informal education and training in animal care.

  • A shelter/rescue operator is responsible, conscientious, and dedicated.

  • A shelter/rescue operator maintains accurate up-to-date records for animals within their care.

  • A shelter/rescue operator works within all municipal, provincial, and national legislation and guidelines with regards to animal care.

  • A shelter/rescue operator establishes good, safe work habits within the guidelines of current health and safety practices.

  • A shelter/rescue operator has documented access to appropriate veterinary care and seeks professional treatment when required.

  • A shelter/rescue operator encourages community support and involvement.

  • A shelter/rescue operator exists to help animals in need and not as a commercial enterprise for the purpose of breeding, acquiring, or selling animals.

  • A shelter/rescue operator employs educational program as a means of preventing animal abandonment, distress, or abuse.

  • A shelter/rescue operator shares skills and knowledge with others.

  • A shelter/rescue operator follows established operating procedures and plans aimed at optimizing the health, safety, and welfare of animals under their care.


Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Best Management Practices for Animal Shelter and Rescue in the Province of Alberta,

Veterinarians and Animal Rescues

Veterinarians play an important role in working with animal rescue organizations, and have many ethical obligations when providing care for animals under the care of rescues. These ethical responsibilities become especially pertinent when collaborating with animal rescue groups who provide support to Indigenous Communities. 

"Is this rescue ethical?" - Produced by Charlie Wyatt-Swain

Building Relationships with Indigenous Communities 

Indigenous communities have special relationships with dogs, and well-meaning rescue groups may have misconceptions about these relationships. With proper guidance, rescue groups can play a key role in providing assistance in a good way, using a holistic approach that honors tradition and spirit. 

"How animal rescues can assist in a good way" - Produced by Charlie Wyatt-Swain

Pets for Life Sustainability Guide

People living in poverty or in underserved communicates are faced with daily challenges and extreme barriers to accessing services for their pets. 

As noted in the Pets for Life Sustainability Guide:  “The future of companion animal welfare is becoming increasingly contingent upon its ability to serve as a comprehensive community resource and that means recognizing the difference between just offering services and creating equity in access. Delivery of direct care services is part of the solution but if we want true transformational change, attacking systems of inequity is imperative. In animal welfare we have a responsibility and unique opportunity to speak up on and work towards racial and economic justice.”

The Pets for Life Sustainability Guide provides a thought provoking examination of the deeper socioeconomic issues that impact animal welfare. 

Pets for Life Sustainability Guide
Vets and animal rescues
Building relationships- Indigenous Communities
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