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Veterinarian & Shelter Staff Training 1999





Course & Training 1999

Shelter Management Manual

Training 2000

Conference & Training 2003




These cages — which have animals in them — are dark, dirty, small, and dangerous



The first course on shelter management ever held in Israel, at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in Rehovot and organized and funded by CHAI, was a great success. In November 1999, municipal veterinarians, heads of shelters, and shelter workers from all over Israel attended the two-day course. The topics covered included humane capture and handling of animals; the nutritional requirements of animals young and old, sick and well; sanitation and disease control; the most humane method of euthanasia, when necessary; and how to identify abused horses. 


Following the course, CHAI's team was invited to 13 shelters and municipal pounds around the country to offer training and suggestions for improvements, which will relieve the suffering of thousands of animals countrywide.


The course was led by Doug Seif, DVM, and Penny Cistaro. Dr. Seif is an expert on sanitation and disease control in shelters and is the medical advisor to many shelters in the U.S. Penny Cistaro has 25 years of experience running shelters, most recently the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, California. She is an independent consultant and trainer at shelters nationwide and works as a cruelty investigator.


Problems found at the facilities included:

  • Severe overcrowding (as many as 130 dogs, for example, cared for by only one full- and one part-time worker).

  • Dogs kept in cages too long (in one case, for 6 years).

  • Cages too small.

  • Caged kittens left without food or water, on a wire floor with no bedding.

  • Pieces of metal sticking out into the cages that could injure animals.

  • No separation of sick and healthy animals, so disease can easily spread.

  • No ability to properly clean and disinfect the facility, or excessive amounts of bleach being used to clean, which can burn the mucous membranes of the animals' lungs.

  • Puppies from different litters placed in the same pen, on a dirt floor, so viruses like parvo can spread to all the puppies. Then when the puppies are moved to the adoption kennel, the virus spreads to all the dogs in the kennel and all may have to be euthanized.

  • No dry, elevated place for dogs to stand or sit, so the dogs shiver on cold, wet floors.

  • Cages hosed down without first removing the dogs in them, so they get splashed with their own excrement and become frightened of people.

  • Absence of light and ventilation.

  • Cats and dogs housed in the same room.

  • In one place, as many as 20 dogs at a time were being tied to the wall by chains and euthanized in front of each another by painful injections into the heart, without prior anesthesia. CHAI's team trained the shelter staff in proper euthanasia procedures and followed up to be certain the old procedures had changed.

  • In another case, a large, vicious dog was kept on a chain in the shelter during the day, scaring the caged cats and potential adopters. At night, he was set free to guard the shelter, killing any feral cats who entered in search of food. CHAI donated funds to have the shelter sealed so no stray animals could enter and the dog was temporarily moved from the shelter to a supervised office. We also obtained a commitment from the vet running the facility that the dog would be placed in a suitable home and no longer kept on the shelter grounds.

  • At this same facility, the drainage system permitted excrement from one cage to be washed into another before making its way to the drain in the center of the room. The shelter manager agreed to seal the separations between the cages down to the floor to prevent water and sewage from flowing from one kennel into another.

  • At one facility, workers were euthanizing cats with chloroform instead of sodium pentobarbital because they had not been trained in how to properly euthanize in the absence of the vet in charge.

  • At another facility, city residents reported that the vet was euthanizing people's companion animals on the street with strychnine poison, which causes death by asphyxiation during convulsions over a period of 24 hours. In some cases he injected companion animals with sodium pentobarbital improperly, causing them pain, because he had never been taught how to euthanize properly.

  • Another facility was a very old, low, dark building, with no windows or ventilation and tiny cement enclosures for dogs. Cracks in the cement made it impossible to properly clean. At a newer facility in the same city, an improper drainage system permitted dogs to come into contact with feces from other dogs as it ran by them on the way to the sewer. CHAI's team met with the mayor of this city, who agreed to close the old facility down completely and instead transport animals to a shelter in a nearby city.


For animals who must be euthanized, CHAI imported the fast-acting form of sodium pentobarbital, available from the U.S., and provided some free to a number of the facilities we visited.


Animal Shelter Management Manual

You can read the revised version (2004) of the complete Animal Shelter Management Manual (Acrobat PDF file) that was used in this course. You can print it from the browser window, or you can download (save) the file for reading and printing later:

  1. Click the link below — manual-e.pdf — with your right mouse button (or Mac equivalent: click and hold).

  2. In the menu that opens, click Save Target As (Internet Explorer) or Save Link As (Netscape). (Do not click Print Target.)
  3. Save the file manual-e.pdf to a convenient location on your computer.



To view and print the file, you need the free document viewer Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website.


Follow-up Training

CHAI was invited back to give additional hands-on training in various cities.

See Veterinarian and Shelter Management Training 2 (2000)