Research Topic

Reimagining Animal Sheltering: Support Services and Community-Driven Sheltering Methods

About this Research Topic

Companion animal sheltering and welfare organizations play a critical role in advancing human, animal, and environmental health and welfare, however there has been significant debate over the past several decades regarding which programs and policies optimize these health and welfare outcomes. Some communities may seek to control animal populations for the purpose of preventing zoonotic disease transmission. Other communities may seek to redistribute unowned animals effectively throughout the community through foster care and adoptions. More recently, many communities have begun to think more holistically about the system of animal services and the potential for preventing animals from entering shelters in the first place through collaboration with human and environmental service agencies. With this perspective, community-based forms of animal sheltering and support services have been emerging, requiring the advent of innovative methods (including novel tools and technologies) and novel measurements (including novel KPIs) to inform the best practices of these new systems. Unfortunately, there has been a significant gap in the evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to establish the best practices that inform effective community-based sheltering program development and implementation.

This Research Topic intends to assemble evidence for or against critical concepts, programs, and methods related to community-based animal sheltering and support services which may shape the future of animal services. Through a more thorough, evidence-based understanding of these services and their interactions, animal services can continue to evolve in directions which acknowledge the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health and welfare outcomes and serve their communities in a fair, just, inclusive, and equitable manner.

This Research Topic welcomes, but is not limited to, papers addressing the following themes:
• Services designed to keep pets in their families and prevent the need to directly engage with other animal services;
• Outreach and field services (i.e. animal control, enforcement, etc.) which preserve the health and safety of animals and the community by offering support to pet owners and finders;
• Behavior and medical services which support individual animals and population health including telehealth, remote care, and public-private partnered medical and behavior services;
• Organizational development and sustainability including, but not limited to, enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce, staff and volunteer professional development, and mental health services;
• Community cat (i.e. free-roaming, stray, or feral cat) ordinances and their impact on animal, human, and environmental health;
• Foster services for temporary housing of animals and for support in achieving individualized placement of animals into new homes;
• Adoption services which optimize placement of newly intake animals into homes ;
• Community engagement strategies and their associated marketing elements which can be used to enhance other services and build community-oriented resources;
• Building and facility design to prevent the spread of disease and provide optimal animal, human, and environmental health (including infection control, animal mental health vis-à-vis animal behavior);
• Integrated public health initiatives that support and encourage collaboration across human, animal, and environmental service providers to better serve the most vulnerable populations in the community.


Keywords: animal welfare, companion animals, animal sheltering, community services, sustainable development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Companion animal sheltering and welfare organizations play a critical role in advancing human, animal, and environmental health and welfare, however there has been significant debate over the past several decades regarding which programs and policies optimize these health and welfare outcomes. Some communities may seek to control animal populations for the purpose of preventing zoonotic disease transmission. Other communities may seek to redistribute unowned animals effectively throughout the community through foster care and adoptions. More recently, many communities have begun to think more holistically about the system of animal services and the potential for preventing animals from entering shelters in the first place through collaboration with human and environmental service agencies. With this perspective, community-based forms of animal sheltering and support services have been emerging, requiring the advent of innovative methods (including novel tools and technologies) and novel measurements (including novel KPIs) to inform the best practices of these new systems. Unfortunately, there has been a significant gap in the evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to establish the best practices that inform effective community-based sheltering program development and implementation.

This Research Topic intends to assemble evidence for or against critical concepts, programs, and methods related to community-based animal sheltering and support services which may shape the future of animal services. Through a more thorough, evidence-based understanding of these services and their interactions, animal services can continue to evolve in directions which acknowledge the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health and welfare outcomes and serve their communities in a fair, just, inclusive, and equitable manner.

This Research Topic welcomes, but is not limited to, papers addressing the following themes:
• Services designed to keep pets in their families and prevent the need to directly engage with other animal services;
• Outreach and field services (i.e. animal control, enforcement, etc.) which preserve the health and safety of animals and the community by offering support to pet owners and finders;
• Behavior and medical services which support individual animals and population health including telehealth, remote care, and public-private partnered medical and behavior services;
• Organizational development and sustainability including, but not limited to, enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce, staff and volunteer professional development, and mental health services;
• Community cat (i.e. free-roaming, stray, or feral cat) ordinances and their impact on animal, human, and environmental health;
• Foster services for temporary housing of animals and for support in achieving individualized placement of animals into new homes;
• Adoption services which optimize placement of newly intake animals into homes ;
• Community engagement strategies and their associated marketing elements which can be used to enhance other services and build community-oriented resources;
• Building and facility design to prevent the spread of disease and provide optimal animal, human, and environmental health (including infection control, animal mental health vis-à-vis animal behavior);
• Integrated public health initiatives that support and encourage collaboration across human, animal, and environmental service providers to better serve the most vulnerable populations in the community.


Keywords: animal welfare, companion animals, animal sheltering, community services, sustainable development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

17 January 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

17 January 2021 Abstract
31 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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