Module 6: The Case of the Overwhelmed Shelter

A Plea for Help

In response to the “Zeus” incident, the shelter director contacted the UF Shelter Medicine Program to evaluate shelter operations and make recommendations for best practices to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.

Here is what the consultants saw during the site visit to the shelter.



There were 295 dogs and 204 cats for a total of 499 animals in the shelter during the site visit. Here are comments from shelter personnel:

  • Shelter Staff: reported they felt overwhelmed and spent most of their day cleaning. Their biggest challenge was finding places to put animals while their enclosures were cleaned.
  • Shelter Veterinarian: stated she spent most of her time treating sick dogs and cats, so she was very behind on spay/neuter surgeries for animals waiting for adoption.
  • Shelter Director: complained that the county did not give them enough money to hire more people and to cover medical costs. He believed they were taking in more animals than ever before, causing the increased demand for housing space and forcing euthanasia decisions because of no other options.

What is the major cause of this overwhelmed shelter’s plight? Inadequate budget? Not enough housing? Not enough staff? Admission of too many animals? Holding animals too long?

Are they operating beyond their capacity for care?


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