Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Standard Operating Procedures For A Shelter

Standard operating procedures spell out, in a formal manner, how an organization is run. This ensures that operations are not conducted in a random manner based on staff perceptions but rather on clear procedures.It is no less important for an animal shelter to have such procedures in place than it is for any other organization. There is no cookie cutter approach to framing SOPs. Each shelter will have to adopt the approach that suits it best. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), for one, has offers suggestions on set up SOPs for animal shelters.

Frame of Reference

Written SOPs give specific input to staff as to conduct themselves in different situations and how they will be held accountable for their actions. They also specify what equipment should be used for specific operations. For instance, a Louisiana animal shelter laid out some SOPs to perform pest control on pets held on behalf of victims of Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane that was a major blow to Louisiana state in 2005. The procedures described which staff was responsible for the operation, the period of coverage, the location in which the activity was to be performed, the equipment needed and the procedure to follow.

Reduce Risk

Setting guidelines and expectations for staff reduces risk and ensures a smooth transition in times of personnel change. HSUS guidelines suggest that shelters not use language that might be open to interpretation. An SOP that requires staff to assess a dog's temperament before placing the dog in the animal housing area is not specific enough. The SOP should instead spell out the steps to determine the dog's temperament.

Maintain Credibility

Establishing an SOP helps animal shelters maintain credibility by helping staff avoid inconsistencies in dealing with the public and press. Written operating procedures put all the staff on the same page and help them act consistently. The staff should refer to the shelter's SOP on handling media queries or queries from the community, such as an accusation of mistreatment, and can point to the SOP the shelter has in place to deal with internal matters. When staff provides conflicting information or appear not to have an answer, it undermines the credibility of the organization.

Tags: animal shelter, animal shelters, operating procedures