Exploring the Impact of Scheduled Intake as Part of Capacity for Care

Room: St-Laurent 7

Samantha Hobson, Graduate Student, University of Guelph

Overpopulation is a global issue that has severe implications for the well-being and welfare of companion animals. Shelters and rescues are often challenged by the large number of animals in their care. Overcrowding and a lack of adequate housing compromises the welfare of the animals in the shelter’s care. Capacity for Care (C4C) is a management strategy in which the cat population is maintained at or below a predetermined capacity unique to each facility, in order to improve the quality of care provided to animals during their stay in shelter.

Shelters that have implemented C4C have experienced an increase in live release rate and a decrease in illness and length of stay for animals coming into their care. One component of C4C is to manage and triage shelter intake of cats that are being relinquished and scheduling intake appointments for some cats to be admitted when the shelter is better able to accommodate them. This research examines the impact of managed intake on cats and members of the community in need of assistance from a shelter.

Data were collected from community members who were unable to immediately relinquish their cat to a shelter and were placed on a waitlist for relinquishment. Information regarding cats in need of admission to the shelter, and their owners, were self-reported to shelter staff when a community member contacted the shelter for assistance. The aim of this research is to describe the distribution of outcomes for cats who are waitlisted or diverted as part of C4C and to further understand the impact that this management strategy has on the community beyond the shelter.


  1. A deeper understanding of the impact of delayed relinquishment of owned cats to a shelter, and the outcomes of owner surrendered cats impacted by scheduled intake.
  2. Awareness of the impact and knowledge of suggested best practices for implementing a waitlist to manage the intake of owned cats as part of practicing Capacity for Care.
  3. An appreciation of the need for further research and understanding directions.

Samantha Hobson is currently working towards an MSc at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario. Her thesis is focused on how managing intake affects cats and cat owners beyond the sheltering system. Samantha has also worked as an animal care attendant at the Guelph Humane Society since October 2016.