Forrest City, ARHempstead, New YorkJones CountyMaconBlog Upson County AustinAustinBlogBARC @ HoustonMonroe County Spalding CountyWarner RobinsTompkins County




Developing a Shelter Rating System

What should you expect when you bring a lost dog, or feel you must surrender one of your own pets, to a shelter? What will happen to your beloved pet if he/she gets picked up by Animal Control in your city?

Developing an objective Rating System for shelters will direct much-needed attention to the problem of inhumane treatment of animals. Communities will be put on notice that their conduct is open to public review and scrutiny.

The SHELTER REFORM Rating System currently being designed by experts consulting with Kathy Selbrede will use a list of parameters that will provide a bird's-eye view of a city's shelter and how it rates against other cities and against the standard of a humane shelter across-the-board. The Rating System also applies to the state (e.g., Georgia, North Carolina, etc.) to determine how closely the state adheres to humane guidelines in its own law code, as well as to the shelters operating inside its borders.


The rating for a shelter will be composed of three numbers:

The first number is the shelter's rating against the Humane Treatment Standard (a 1-to-10 scale, 10 being best, known as HTS for short).

The second number is the state's animal protection laws rated on the same scale.

The third number is the state's vigor in enforcing its own laws in its city shelters.*

A rating of 3/5/4 means:

The shelter earned a score of 3 against the Humane Treatment Standard (HTS).

The state's written law code earned a 5 against HTS, meaning that even though the state's standards are low, the shelter isn't even meeting that level of humane treatment.

The stated earned a 4 in enforcing its laws, meaning the state isn't even strongly committed to pulling this deficient shelter up to its own low standard (a 5 on the HTS scale).

Conversely, a rating of 8/6/9 means the shelter (score: 8) exceeds state standards (score: 6), and the state takes enforcement seriously (score: 9), even though it only holds to a standard of humane care of 6 on the HTS scale.

The third number, rating diligence in enforcement of the state's animal protection laws, is important because shelters are rarely run privately but involve some use of police force. Therefore, a state's laws and its enforcement mechanisms necessarily have a bearing on the treatment of animals in that state.

*Shelters that operate independently of the state must contract with the city to provide the police mechanisms for enforcing the state’s laws. We at Shelter Reform see tremendous benefit in privatization of much of this work, and are aware of significant success stories in regard to privatizing animal control (excepting the obvious police function of dealing with animal cruelty cases and confiscation of animals from abusive owners).

Every dog and cat deserves a 10 / 10 / 10 !!!

Return to top of page




Measuring Improvements in Humane Treatment of Animals in our Shelters

The parameters for humane treatment involve points for the living conditions of the animals, the euthanasia-to-adoption ratio, the method of euthanasia used, proper use of identification methods, disease and pest control in the shelters, veterinary care, relations with private adoption groups, length and verifiability of hold times, animal control actions against animal abuse in the community, spay and neuter programs, and other important factors in insuring that animals are not subjected to abuse either short or long-term.

Although this beginning of the SHELTER REFORM Rating System is modest, it is a potent idea that may well spiral into a de facto national standard.

If rescue groups begin to apply the SHELTER REFORM Rating System to the animal shelters in their respective areas, and if we actively advertise the standards for all identified shelters, citizens will take a closer look at what might befall their own pets at their own local animal shelters should they become lost or stolen.

If you have suggestions concerning the development of the SHELTER REFORM Rating System, please contact us at