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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do We Need A "Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Humans"?

Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA
"The structural and social environment, as well as opportunities for cognitive and physical activity, are important for all species of animals."
-Association of Shelter Veterinarians

Incoming humans at our local jail may be kept in a holding cell for up to 72 hours before being assigned to a regular pod, especially those arriving on a weekend.

In the holding area they are housed in an often cold and sometimes crowded environment, without being provided a blanket or mattress. No routine medical care screening is done at the time of their admission, nor any medical help offered for for those going through drug withdrawal or who are in need of their prescribed medications.

It was in one of these holding units that an inmate committed suicide at our jail on December 7, 2014.

All of which makes me wonder whether we shouldn't have standards for the confinement of human beings that are more in line with those set by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians?

Here are some excerpts from their 67-page book of Guidelines For  Standards of Care In Animal Shelters:

"The primary enclosure must be structurally sound and maintained in safe, working condition to properly confine animals, (and) prevent injury..."

"Primary enclosures must provide sufficient space to allow each animal, regardless of species, to make normal postural adjustments, e.g., to turn freely and to easily stand, sit, stretch, move their head, without touching the top of the enclosure, (and) lie in a comfortable position with limbs extended..."

"Temperature and humidity levels should be evaluated at the level of the animal’s body within its enclosure...  If animals appear too cold (i.e., shivering or huddling together for warmth) or too hot (i.e., excessive panting), necessary measures must be taken to ensure animal comfort and safety..."

"It is commonly accepted that animal shelters have a responsibility to provide for the health and welfare of all animals who enter their care. Unfortunately, compromised animal health and welfare have been documented in animal shelters... Animals often arrive at shelters already experiencing health challenges, and even healthy animals entering new, expertly designed facilities may have their welfare compromised, or risk becoming ill without a functional medical healthcare program."

"The structural and social environment, as well as opportunities for cognitive and physical activity, are important for all species of animals. An appropriate environment includes shelter and a comfortable resting area, in which animals are free from fear and distress and have the ability to express normal, species typical behaviors... The stress induced by even short-term confinement in an animal shelter can compromise health; and when confined long-term, animals frequently suffer due to chronic anxiety, social isolation, inadequate mental stimulation and lack of physical exercise."
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