Companion Animal Transport Best Practice
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why has the NFHS created this Best Practice?
A: The NFHS believes that companion animal transport programs are one potentially effective strategy in reducing pet overpopulation and achieving the NFHS's 2020 Vision to end pet homelessness.
Q: How were these transport best practices created?
A: The NFHS uses the knowledge and experience of its members to develop programs and operating strategies that can be beneficial to other animal welfare agencies in achieving the 2020 Vision. The transport best practice was created through a committee which interviewed State Veterinarians, transfer program facilitators and shelters across the country which are participating in successful transfer programs to study their methods and build from their experiences the guidelines in the transport best practice. Once the guidelines were developed, they were reviewed again, by shelter operations professionals to further define protocols and highlight critical components of successful transfer programs.
Q: Why does NFHS promote a tiered approach to transfer programs?
A. The NFHS recognizes that there are often varying resources available between organizations. The tiered approach was used to accommodate these variations and to allow as many organizations as possible to consider a transport program. Tier 1 is the most basic requirements that must be included in any viable program. The higher level tiers represent additional program pieces that improve the likelihood of success needed to sustain a program in the longer term.
The most significant benefit of a transport program is it saves lives. For source shelters that are inundated with animals, transport programs can help to alleviate overcrowding which will impact the health of shelter animals, staffing resources, limit euthanasia, etc. In addition, transport programs can help broaden the assortment of animals available at the destination shelter, which in turn should increase adoption traffic.
Q: Are there different problems to be solved depending on whether you are a source shelter vs. a destination shelter?
A. Yes, there certainly are.
As a Source shelter, you must identify a willing and able partner with whom you can build a collaborative relationship with. You must develop a plan to address the root causes of pet overpopulation in your community and work with your partner destination shelter and other resources, both local and national, to solve these problems locally. You must find a partner organization with a similar philosophy to your own organizations in order to be able to build the trust that is crucial to long term success.
As a Destination shelter, you must have the resources to taken in, care for, adopt and report on the animals you accept. You must have sufficient staff with the capacity to properly care for and place additional animals. Philosophically and financially, your community must support your efforts to find homes for animals from outside your own locale. Further, destination shelters cannot euthanize animals for time or space.
Within the best practice guidelines there are criteria specific to source and destination shelters as well as some shared responsibilities.
Q: Where can I learn more details or get additional help in establishing a transfer program?
A: All of the national organizations have information available regarding transfer programs. Just reviewing the Best Practice promoted by the NFHS and beginning to address the questions and suggestions contained in the best practice will give you a great start. Also PetSmart Charities and their Rescue Waggin program; American Humane Association, sample transfer agreement; the ASPCA, Animal Sheltering.org and Maddie's Fund all have resource materials available to help you get started.
Q: How will my organization benefit from using the NFHS' best practice?
A: Most importantly, it should help you organize your thoughts and realistically address the many components of successful programs that must be implemented to build and sustain a successful transfer program. One of the first steps that must be taken is to learn and understand the local and state regulations that impact transferring animals from one area of the state or country to another. If you create a program that does not meet governmental regulations you jeopardize your ability to transfer animals, your own organization's credibility in the community and you hurt the reputation of all animal welfare groups who engage in companion animal transfer.
The guidelines offered by the NFHS are voluntary but represent the most current best practices being used by successful transfer programs. The guidelines will change over time as better protocols are developed and more information is shared by those engaged in animal transfer. The availability of resources play a crucial role in allowing organizations to expand their scope of care and the amount of support they can provide. Therefore, as organizations share success and are able to garner more community support, their transfer program will be able to achieve the higher tiers and offer more opportunities for animals to be adopted. All transfer programs should aspire to achieve the highest levels of the guidelines which will substantially improve the likelihood of sustaining your program for the long term and allow more animals to be placed in caring homes.
Q: How are transfer programs managed?
A: The best practice guidelines address this question directly. Generally, each participating agency will have a designated coordinator to manage the transport process for their organization. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of honest, open communication and the trust that must be shared between the participating organizations.
Q: What are the requirements for animals participating in the program?
A: Animals to be transferred must be physically and behaviorally healthy or treatable, free from disease and able to withstand the stress of being transported to new, unfamiliar surroundings. Again, the guidelines address specific areas that must be addressed when deciding which animals to transfer.
We encourage you to download the best practice guidelines and hope that you will use them to develop or improve your own transfer program. The NFHS welcomes all feedback regarding this best practice. If you have questions or suggestions, you can use the contact button on the top of the website to send them to us.
If you find these best practices helpful or choose to implement them, again, let us know what your experiences are so that we can continue to build on and improve the knowledge of all of our members and the animal welfare community.