Policies & Procedures: How Often Do Animal Welfare Organizations Need to Update?

October 14, 2016

The difference between being almost right and actually right leads to lawsuits every day. It’s no secret that our society continues to resort to lawsuits as a popular method to work out differences and be heard by a larger audience. Over the years, animal welfare organizations received lawsuit papers for multiple types of incidents.
The best animal welfare organizations implement policies and procedures to promote safety, honesty, and proper care of animals in need. When was the last time you reviewed these policies and procedures? Many times organizations utilize a “set it and forget it” approach to policies and procedures. This is risky business for animal welfare organizations.
How often do you need to review?
It depends on the scope of your animal welfare organization’s operations. A few things to consider before you determine how often to review:

  • How many volunteers are a part of your team?
  • What is your volunteer turnover rate?
  • Do you offer any TNR services?
  • Do you provide any veterinary services?

It is important to look at your services and what types of compliance you need to be up to date on. If you offer veterinary services, you need to review policies and procedures more frequently. Review policies and procedures at least once every year but more often if volunteer turnover is high and they type of services you provide requires it.
Why?
There are 3 important reasons you need to update policies and procedures on a regular basis.

  1. Prevents incidents and accidents from occurring.
    Policies and procedures provide a solid outline of expectations for volunteers. Those expectations address your operations at the time they are drafted and implemented. Your operations change as you grow and increase your volunteer team. It is important to “relook” at the procedures to identify operational changes, efficiency updates, and missing items.
  2. Provides the solution to the problem.
    Strong policies and procedures include solutions to problems that arise – how to reprimand or address non-compliant volunteers. Having this documented lets volunteers know what to expect and gives you a path to address issues and be consistent with all volunteers. Laws change over time – make sure you update regularly to remain in compliance.
  3. Protection in the event a lawsuit occurs.
    No matter how many steps you take to minimize lawsuits – they do happen. Your defense is only as strong as your documentation. Having up to date compliant policies and procedures helps you with that defense.

How?
You understand the importance of keeping policies and procedures up to date. How do you make it happen with an already overloaded busy schedule? Use this 4-step plan to simplify the process.

  1. Create a policy and procedures panel. Choose 2-3 strong volunteers to lead the project research for you.
  2. Review changes. Have the volunteers identify any changes made since your last review. Does a policy or procedure exist addressing these changes or new services?
  3. Review existing policies and procedures. Look for any changes that need made to comply with regulations, improve overall efficiency, and decrease risk.
  4. Implement. Make the changes to the policies and procedures. Hold a volunteer training with your volunteers reviewing the changes and updates.

Policies and procedures are vital to the daily operations of your animal welfare organization. Make it a point to update them regularly to keep volunteers safe, visitors, safe, and prevent potential incidents and lawsuits.

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