Over the past two decades, a dramatic shift has taken place in the field of community animal welfare, protection, and sheltering. At its core, it reflects a professionalization of the field, and a movement from reactive to strategic, and from internally focused to community focused.
Focused initially in a handful of organizations in the northeast and west coast US, this progress is very slowly spreading across the country. For those communities that are home to these advanced organizations, this progress has led to a great improvement in the health and well-being of dogs and cats, and in the relationship between humans and companion animals.
New standards and definitions for tracking and measuring progress have been established that can be adapted and adopted in nearly any community. A national awareness has been created in the field.
The best estimates are that 100 – 150 shelters are “advanced” or well on their way. There are roughly 12,000 “basic shelters” in the US – those that operate from a defensive position and have not yet significantly shifted the community norms and conditions that put them in that position.
How does a basic shelter achieve “advanced” capability and status? What’s the journey? How can we know how we are doing, and if/when we’ve arrived?
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