Shelter Health

Segregate Animal Populations

Placing animals into smaller groups in separate housing areas of the shelter based on species, health, age and other factors helps maintain optimum animal health during a shelter stay.

Here are five actions you can take to create appropriate housing areas for cats and dogs in your care:

1. Designate at least four housing areas for each species: Healthy Hold, Adoption, Isolation, Quarantine

Healthy Hold: Houses stray and surrendered healthy animals until they are able to be moved to adoption floor.

Adoption: Houses healthy animals available for adoption.

Isolation: Houses animals who are clinically ill (symptomatic) and infected with a communicable disease. In an isolation space, the use of barriers and solid walls can lessen the transmission of disease.

Quarantine: Create multiple quarantine areas for animals considered potentially dangerous:

  • Animals being observed for rabies
  • Animals exposed to infectious disease but not yet clinical during an outbreak situation

If possible:

  • Separate young animals (5 months and younger) from adults
  • Provide separate housing for feral cats and aggressive dogs
  • Set up multiple isolation areas to separate sick animals by type of illness (for example a separate ringworm ward from URI ward)

2. Create written standard operating procedures for each area


  • Which animals are housed in each area and which should not be
  • Maximum number of animals allowed in each area
  • Who is responsible for feeding, cleaning, and monitoring animals in each area
  • Who to contact if an issue arises in a specific area

3. Using your SOPs, train staff and volunteers in correct use of each housing area

4. Label each housing area, including maximum capacity

5. Train all staff, especially animal care staff, to recognize early signs of infectious disease so animals with potential infectious issues are quickly moving to the appropriate isolation location

Training Tool for Staff

Use this presentation as a training tool to explain to your staff the what, why, and how of segregating populations.

ASV Shelter Guidelines

For more information about segregating animal populations, and for creating housing areas in your shelter, see the following topics in Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters:

  • Facility Design and Environment
  • Population Management
  • Monitoring and Daily Rounds
  • Response to Disease or Illness
  • Medical Treatment of Shelter Animals
  • In-Shelter Care
  • Group Housing

More Saving Lives at Intake Resources

Examine Animals at Intake
Here are five things you should accomplish during a basic intake exam. Read More »

Vaccinate at Intake
Get the most out of the vaccines you invest in by reviewing which type to use, what animals to vaccinate, and when to revaccinate. Read More »

Treat Parasites at Intake
Review these five steps to improve the health of your shelter population and prevent transmission to animals and people. Read More »

Good Nutrition for Shelter Animals
Use these procedures and downloads to help ensure animals are fed properly. Read More »