Shelter Standards

Animal shelters are a valuable resource to keep animals safe and healthy. The Animal Rescue League of Boston recognizes the importance of well-run animal shelters in communities to allow families and individuals to safely and comfortably add animal members to their family.

Shelters should maintain an atmosphere that is above all, sanitary and safe for animals and people. This includes proper standards around facilities, sanitization, isolation, and quarantine. Shelters must be aware of space, staff and volunteer capacity, and animals in need of care.

Facilities should be in good condition, with proper disposal of waste, and effective control to prevent disease, noxious odors, or infestation. Facilities should be designed with the intention of housing animals, of appropriate size and environment for animals, and surfaces that are durable and can be disinfected. Animals should live in environments that are clean and dry, with emergency and routine veterinary care, sufficient fresh food in clean bowls and dishes, access to clean drinking water, appropriate temperature and ventilation, protections from weather and elements, outside exercise when appropriate, and group housing that is appropriate based on species, breed, and individual animal temperament.

Shelters should be constructed with the needs of animals in mind. While there may be financial and other constraints, the ability of animals to be housed in appropriate, sanitary, and enriching environments is paramount to the goal of animal welfare. Animals in shelter must be appropriately housed to avoid spread of disease and encourage quality of life for animals.

Appropriate quarantine, along with monitoring and sanitation, is crucial to avoiding quick moving and widespread disease. Proper intake procedures and monitoring of animals can prevent suffering and spread of disease in the shelter setting.

Therefore, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will:

  • Advocate for statewide shelter standards that are robust and focus on providing the appropriate level of care
  • Work to comply with any new laws or regulations
  • Serve as a resource to other humane organizations who may seek guidance on conforming with such changes


[1]Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. (2012). Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff, 701–702. doi: 10.1002/9781119421511.app2