Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Question about owner surrender dogs, behavioral evaluation, and medical intake

    Posted 11-03-2021 05:49 AM

    We have had a few animals from owner surrender appointments recently who the medical staff have either been unable or had difficulty obtaining blood samples and/or providing vaccines and other preventions too after they have already been accepted into the program.  With our medical protocols involving vaccine and preventative administration on intake (for population and individual health reasons), how have other shelters dealt with this medical aspect while to still following the latest in behavioral assessment recommendations? 

    I hope this question makes sense.  We are a non-profit that primarily pulls dogs from county shelters and through owner surrender appointments that involve an application and acceptance process. 

    Thank you!

    Stephanie Cohen
    Humane Society of Pinellas

  • 2.  RE: Question about owner surrender dogs, behavioral evaluation, and medical intake

    Posted 11-03-2021 10:33 PM
    Hello Stephanie,

    This is a difficult situation as you have to balance good welfare vs. disease prevention. When you are pulling dogs from county shelters and accepting owner surrender appointments with an application and acceptance process are you also having a discussion about emotional health? Do you obtain the medical records from the veterinarian? Both I think will help you prepare and make sure you have an individual handling plan in place for these dogs before they even arrive. 

    Are you practicing Low Stress Handling and Fear Free practices? Often "less is more". Basket muzzles can usually be placed on the dog. Go slow, keep your voice low and have soft lighting. Our approach to these dogs (don't reach for or lean over. Invite the dog into your space rather than you invading their space) matters. Draw blood from the hind leg rather than the front. Use a butterfly to draw blood, More exams on the floor, don't lift the dog, let the dog jump onto the table themselves. Provide a non slip mat on the floor. Pheromones and music can also be helpful. Make sure you are not "task" oriented. Using snuffle mats, LickiMats and special treats as you examine, draw blood, and vaccinate. Feed before and while you touch not after. Sometimes medications can be helpful to facilitate examination.  You will be surprised that these techniques do not take longer and you are able to accomplish more while being safer.

    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF

  • 3.  RE: Question about owner surrender dogs, behavioral evaluation, and medical intake

    Posted 11-09-2021 10:28 AM
    We've had good luck asking the owner to place a muzzle on the dog and be present for their dog's intake exam. Often we explain it to the owner by saying that since their dog is fearful of strangers/dislikes restraint/has a history of snapping at the vet, it will be less stressful for the dog if they have someone familiar there, rather than having the dog's first experience at the shelter be strangers doing scary things. We often discuss this plan before the appointment, so we can make sure we have an appropriately-sized muzzle ready and staff free to do the exam when the dog shows up so the owner isn't stuck waiting. Even better if the owner can tell you about/bring along a dog's favorite treats! I do recommend planning to take a minute to demo how to put on the muzzle, and having the owner practice putting it onto their hand or a fake dog before heading for the real dog. Most owners have never used one, and the longer they are spending trying to get it on, the higher the dog's stress level will be. With the dog muzzled, they can't actually bite, so even if the owner's handling/restraint is inexpert, staff can stay relaxed and move slowly.

    I'd also make a priority list based on your population and local risk factor, and possibly plan to do the most urgent items first. (For example, DHPP and rabies vaccines at intake with the owner, but waiting to do a blood draw for a HWT until the dog has settled in and is comfortable with staff.)

    Emme Hones