How to Help Shelter Animals Using the Asilomer Accords and Adoptability Guidelines

Dr. Emilia Gordon, DVM, Senior Manager, Animal Health, British Columbia SPCA

All shelter and rescue organizations share a common goal of saving as many animals as possible. The Asilomar Accords were established in 2004 in order to create a uniform method for collecting and reporting shelter data, with the goal of saving the lives of all healthy and treatable companion animals. The Accords define four animal categories based on health and behavioural conditions.

The BC SPCA recently created and introduced a detailed evaluation matrix for determining both Asilomar categories and Adoptability for dogs, cats, and small mammals. The Asilomar component trains staff to accurately assign intake/ exit categories. The Adoptability component supports staff in making consistent adoptability decisions. The ultimate goal of creating this system is to expand the BC SPCA’s lifesaving capabilities.

This interactive talk will share information about creation and implementation of the matrix, pilot data and staff feedback, and resources and tips for organizations interested in this system.

Key Learnings:
1. Attendees will gain familiarity with the Asilomar Accords and how they can be used to collect and report shelter data with the goal of saving more shelter animals
2. Attendees will explore adoptability decision making and learn how written Adoptability guidelines can help both staff and animals
3. Attendees will leave with specific resources that they can use to create Asilomar and/or Adoptability Guidelines for their own organizations


Dr. Emilia Gordon, DVM
oversees the animal health program for British Columbia SPCA shelter animals. Dr. Gordon’s veterinary career has been evenly divided between private practice and shelter/non-profit medicine, and for the last 15 years she has also volunteered at free clinics that provide essential wellness care to pets of homeless individuals. Her clinical interests include shelter medicine, infectious disease, the human-animal bond, and behaviour.