Train Volunteers on Zoonotic Diseases

October 22, 2013

As the director of an animal rescue, you’re going to face many challenges. One of those challenges will be the fact that at least some of the animals you take in won’t have been properly vaccinated and could be quite ill. If you don’t have a plan for handling Zoonotic diseases, illness can quickly spread through your shelter, putting the lives of the animals you’re trying to save at risk, while simultaneously increasing the amount of money you have to spend on vet care.

To decrease the chances of an outbreak occurring, you need to take the time to train your volunteers on how to identify, respond to, and treat the different Zoonotic diseases they encounter.

Educate Your Volunteers

Before you let anyone do anything at the shelter, you should have a training period. At least part of this training program will involve discussing the diseases common to your area and the types of animals you receive. By the time they complete the training program they should be able to identify the signs of common illnesses, and what to do if they suspect they’ve just taken in a sick pet.

Teach Them What Questions to Ask

If you take in pets that have been surrendered by the owners, you need to make sure that your volunteers have been properly trained on what questions they should ask about what vaccinations the animal has had, and collecting the contact information for the animal’s vet.

They Need to Be Alert

The trick to preventing zoonotic diseases from spreading throughout your shelter is recognizing that one of your animals isn’t feeling well. Make sure your volunteers know that as soon as they suspect an animal is getting ill, they need to place it in quarantine and promptly start sterilizing the pen, toys, and feed dishes the ill animal used.

Stress the Importance of Protecting Their Own Pets

Since someone is volunteering at your shelter they obviously love animals and most likely have a few pets of their own. Make sure you make it very clear that by helping out in the shelter there’s a chance that they could come into contact with diseases which they could carry back home with them, and that the best way to keep their own pets safe and healthy will be by keeping on top of their pets standard inoculations.

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