Animal Shelter Conditions Are Poor for Humans?

I think it is the first time that I have read an article questioning the conditions that humans work under at animal shelters in America. Clearly, almost all the time there is a discussion about conditions at an animal shelter is about the conditions under which animals are kept and cared for. But what about the dedicated volunteers who look after the animals?

Pat a cat shelter volunteer
Pat Hakanson a cat shelter worker. Photo copyright Tim (The Western Australian Santi)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Joyce Herring in Valparaiso, Indiana, USA wrote a short article in which she stated that she is a volunteer at the Porter County Animal Shelter. She praises her fellow staff members who she says work hard to keep the kennels clean. However, she gently criticises the staff facilities which she says are inadequate and which make it harder for the staffers to do good work.

For example, she says that there is only one double sink for all the clean-up that needs to take place at the shelter. This sink is used to hand wash all the dog and cat dishes as there is no dishwasher. It is also used to wash the litter boxes for both sick and healthy animals. That may present a problem of contagion. The same sink is also used to bathe the dogs.

I don’t know Valparaiso in the USA but it is very hot in August and there is no air conditioning at the facility. She says that when you wash your hands in hot dishwater in the sweltering August heat it is almost unbearable.

In frustration she says that the conditions under which the volunteers work at the shelter are “nearly as untenable as for the animals”.

I wonder whether other volunteers have similar experiences? It is certainly worthwhile raising this question because without the concerned volunteers, who want to help, a lot of the shelters (all of them perhaps) would not function. Job satisfaction is what brings them back.

If the facilities present a barrier to job satisfaction I would have thought that it would make sense for management to improve facilities in order to ensure that they retain staff and that the staff are as content as possible. Happy workers are good workers; that’s what the experts say. Make your workplace as enjoyable as possible to improve productivity.

How much focus by management is placed on making an animal shelter an enjoyable place to work? Obviously, it goes without saying that the amount of funding must be a major influence on the quality of the workplace. That said there may be room for improvement even within the constraints of limited funding.


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2 thoughts on “Animal Shelter Conditions Are Poor for Humans?”

  1. I am amazed at how much effort it takes to have a well-run shelter. Money is always a problem–ours improved when they decided to fund-raise instead of being wholly dependent on State and Local government. They encouraged volunteers, cooperation with local veterinarians, run low cost spay neuter programs, and set reasonable goals. The time they hold pets has increased from 5 days to several months over the past two decades. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Most definitely, Yes!

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  2. Valparaiso is a northern state that may experience a few weeks of 80-90 degree weather during summer. August can be very warm, but there should be plenty of fans running. Not at all like Florida where fans can have no impact. Hand washing and dish washing feeders needs to be done in disinfecting hot water.
    I’m more concerned about how they may deal with the brutal cold there.

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