Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of the Asilomar Accords?
Asilomar is a retreat center in Pacific Grove, California where eighteen national, regional and local animal welfare leaders met in August of 2004 to build bridges across varying philosophies, develop relationships, and create goals focused on ending the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats in the United States. The outcome of the meeting was the Asilomar Accords which include a set of Guiding Principles, standardized definitions, a statistics table for tracking shelter populations and a formula for determining shelter live release rates. The purpose of the definitions, table, and live release rate formula is to produce a uniform system so that shelters and other stakeholders can get a better understanding of lifesaving progress nationwide.
How can my organization participate in the Asilomar Accords?
To get started, read the Asilomar Accords, which include an Annual Animal Statistics Table. To report your organization's participation in the Asilomar Accords, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At what events have there been discussions of the Asilomar Accords?
Animal Care Expo 2005, April 6-9, 2005, Atlanta, Georgia; Animal Care Expo 2006, March 8-11, 2006, Anaheim, California; National Summit to End Pet Overpopulation, Queensland, Australia, June 15-17, 2006; Massachusetts Animal Coalition meeting, Tufts University, September 16, 2006; Town Hall animal welfare coalition meeting, Chicago, Illinois, September 18, 2006; American Humane Society Annual Conference, Schaumburg, Illinois, September 28-30, 2006; Animal Care Expo 2007, May 9-12, 2007, Dallas, Texas.
How many communities have published annual statistics using the Asilomar Accords tables and definitions?
Please see our list of organizations participating in the Asilomar Accords for links to published statstics.
When should an animal be classified, upon intake or at the end of their stay? What if they come in sick, then improve by the time they are available?
The Asilomar Accords table as it was originally designed shows the animal's classification only at exit. However, it's better to classify animals at intake as well as exit. This way, shelter workers can make decisions about whether to place animals in the shelter's adoption facilities, medical clinic or foster homes. Categorizing at intake also provides valuable information about shelter operations. For example, if a majority of animals come in healthy and exit as treatable, staff would want to take a closer look at housing conditions, disease control protocols, vaccination protocols, etc. If an animal comes in healthy and becomes sick, he would be categorized as healthy at intake and treatable at exit. If an animal comes in sick and improves by the time he is available for adoption, he would still be categorized as treatable at both intake and exit If an animal has had an illness or other specified condition that needs attention at any time while under the shelter's care, that animal cannot be categorized as "healthy." Classifying an animal as healthy upon exit who received treatment while in the shelter hides the fact that the shelter put significant time and resources into caring for that animal. It's important for the shelter to know this so that it can accurately project future resource allocation.
What is the Asilomar Accords philosophy as it relates to feral cats and TNR? Are they considered treatable or unhealthy & untreatable?
The definitions in the Accords of both "treatable-rehabilitatable" and "treatable-manageable" refer to the standard of care "typically provided by reasonable and caring pet owners/guardians in the community." Feral kittens who can be tamed and adopted may be categorized as "treatable-rehabilitatable." Ferals who aren't rehabilitatable may come under the "treatable-manageable" category. Ferals fall into this category if pet guardians in the community typically provide long-term care that enables these animals to maintain a satisfactory quality of life. With greater collaboration between shelters and feral cat colony caregivers and with the rise of feral cat groups operating successful TNR programs, increasing numbers of shelters are returning ferals to their original habitats to be overseen by responsible colony caregivers. In some communities, feral cats will fall into the "unhealthy & untreatable" category (again, based on the community standard). However, keep in mind that just because an animal falls into this category, it does not mean the animal can't be saved. Nothing in the Asilomar Accords definitions discourages shelters from providing care beyond that typically provided by pet guardians in their communities. It would be our hope that as many animals as possible are saved, no matter the category.
We've recently adopted the Asilomar Accords; however, are confused about the categorization of the outcome of the following scenario: We rescue a cat from the street that has no behavior issue, but in the course of determining the cat's medical status find that there's nothing that we can do for the cat other than to provide it with a good home, fluids and other medication. We provide all of these for the cat all the while searching for just the right home for the cat until its quality of life deteriorates to a state that compassionately euthanizing (in the true sense of the word) is the most humane alternative for the cat. Now, if we classify the outcome of that animal as euthanized it adversely affects our live release rate which doesn't seem quite right because we've gone well above our community standards in order to help this animal. The animal didn't just die under our care because we put it out of its misery once the time came. I suppose we could say that we adopted the animal knowing that it would probably never leave our care and classify it as adopted. Anyway, how do the Asilomar Accords address this scenario to reflect the group or coalition for the true leaders that they are within the community? And how should we classify the outcome of this animal to reflect that leadership?
Since the Accords categorize the animals at exit, when you euthanized the cat, he would be classified in your Asilomar tables as unhealthy & untreatable. It’s also a good idea to categorize the animal at intake as well as exit. In the example you cite, the cat would be categorized as treatable on intake because he required medical intervention prior to placement (fluids and medication). For animals that enter your shelter as healthy or treatable but ultimately have to be euthanized as unhealthy & untreatable, it is appropriate to provide an explanation of the heroic efforts that went into saving those animals so you can get credit for the great job you are doing. The more information you disclose about the work you do to try and save lives, the greater the transparency for your agency and the more support you'll receive from your community.
The dilemma outlined here reflects one of the main points the Asilomar Accords aims to address: No matter who we are--government, non-profit, etc.--we are all faced with resource challenges. We will do our best regarding honesty in reporting and transparency in order to ultimately identify where our resource needs. If your shelter's live release rate looked perfect, it would be a cause for concern as many of the animals shelters receive have extensive behavioral and medical needs.
Some local limited admission shelters have worried that moving to Asilomar would alienate citizens and board members, who would see that euthanasia is occasionally performed. It is often just the opposite—the shelter staff no longer is concerned that they may have been hiding something and the cases that do require euthanasia reflect all the extra effort the staff makes for an animal prior to the euthanasia decision. If you are struggling with an accounting method to track Asilomar at both intake and outcome, you might use an "intake condition" field then the "euthanasia outcome reason".
Have a question you don't see answered here?