most important thing we can do for sheltered animals is to help
the animals to form positive associations to all kinds of people.
This will help make them more calm, quiet and friendly when people
approach the kennel, which will help them to get adopted, and will
make them better socialized to people once they're out in the "real
world," which will help keep them adopted.
animals have behavioral baggage when they come to the shelter, and,
sadly, many animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time
in the shelter environment. Shelter animals often become de-housetrained,
hyperactive, noisy, anxious, and lonely. If they do not become intimidated
when strangers walk up to their kennels, their delight and excitement
at seeing people is expressed as uncontrollable exuberance. Unless
a vigorous socialization and training program is in effect, the
animals, particularly puppies and kittens, become less and less
adoptable with each day that they stay.
Paw has created a set of Minimum Mental Health
Requirements to provide for the essential needs of sheltered
animals, specifically regarding their adoptability and comfort,
and their needs for companionship, entertainment, and education.
only do the Minimum Mental Health Requirements help existing sheltered
animals, they can help keep other animals from ever entering a shelter.
The calm, quiet, friendly, happily occupied dogs and cats in an
Open Paw shelter generate amazement and curiosity in shelter visitors.
This creates the perfect opportunity for the staff, volunteers,
and shelter animals to help educate
the public about pet education!
Mental Health Requirements for Dogs
comfortable bed or den.
least three daily opportunities to use a dog toilet area (outside
of their kennel) and be rewarded for using it.
entertainment (environmental enrichment, or occupational therapy)
- stuffed chew toys such as Kongs, or Big Kahunas.
Hand fed, with remainder of food stuffed in chewtoys, i.e., no
feeding from bowls.
with at least 20 people each day, including at least five unfamiliar
and grooming by at least three people a day, including one unfamiliar
education (basic manners training) and mental stimulation (walk).
kennel "down time" each day, a scheduled break from
least 20 minutes out of their kennel run each day, used either
for training, socialization, playtime, exercise, or "down
time" in somebody's office.
companionship - either housed with other dogs, or daily
20 minute play/training sessions.
under 4 months must be housed together in a self-training, long-term
confinement area, with constant access to a puppy toilet area, and
fed only by hand (during conditioning and training) or from stuffed
chewtoys, (i.e., no feeding from bowls). Puppies require daily handling,
grooming, and manners training by at least five unfamiliar people.
Puppies should be fostered whenever possible.
Mental Health Requirements for Cats
warm clean environment with comfortable hiding place.
separate litterbox area.
should be cleaned regularly (feces removed immediately when noticed).
convenient scratching post with suspended toys.
with at least 20 people daily, including at least five unfamiliar
handling, gentling, and grooming by at least three people, including
one unfamiliar person.
companionship for social cats (group housing).
under 4 months should be housed together in a self-training, long-term
confinement area, with constant access to a scratching surface with
suspended toys, and a separate litterbox area. Kittens require daily
handling, gentling, and grooming by at least five unfamiliar people.