The purpose of this study was to describe intake procedures in Colorado animal shelters, compare infectious disease screening protocols in shelters taking in animals from out-of-state to shelters only accepting animals from Colorado, and analyze perceived risk of diseases in Colorado by responding shelter personnel. A questionnaire was designed and administered to shelter personnel across the state of Colorado via the survey tool SurveyMonkey© (http://www.surveymonkey.com
) or a mailed hard copy. Information collected concerned general shelter characteristics and intake procedures performed in various circumstances as reported by responding shelter personnel. Only 12.5% (5/40) of respondents reported providing core vaccines to all animals upon intake at their shelter, with young age (65.0%; 26/40), pregnancy (55.0%; 22/40), and mild existing illness (40.0%; 16/40) being cited as the top reasons for not administering core vaccines. A significantly larger proportion of shelters taking animals in from around the U.S. screened for Dirofilaria immitis
than shelters taking in animals only from within the state of Colorado (p
= 0.001), though a majority of respondents considered cats and dogs to be at risk of heartworm and endoparasitic infection in the state of Colorado. Based on the results of this questionnaire, relatively few shelters test dogs and cats for infectious diseases and some of those utilize tests for diagnostic purposes rather than routine screening. Additionally, vaccination protocols in several shelters are not consistent with The Association of Shelter Veterinarians Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. This study provides important information on intake procedures in Colorado animal shelters and highlights the importance of educating shelter staff on varying risk of infection based on the history and origin of the animal being taken in.
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