The Road to Capacity for Care

Primary Presenter: Kathy Innocente, Animal Care Manager, Animal Welfare Agency South Central Ontario (AWASCO)
Co-Presenter: Dr. Cynthia Karsten, DVM, Outreach Veterinarian, UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

Capacity for Care (C4C), considered holistically, means meeting the needs of every animal, as outlined by the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, who are admitted to an animal care facility.  While the destination is incredible and certainly achievable, the road to C4C can be fraught with twists, and turns.

In this presentation participants will learn what is meant by C4C and about the challenges faced by AWASCO in its attempts to improve the welfare and quality of care for cats, lower euthanasia rates, increase adoptions, decrease animal care costs and ultimately be within their C4C.

We will look at the history of the centre and what it looked like 5 years ago, 1 year ago and what has been accomplished today. AWASCO will share the strategies that were implemented within the last few years that has them now realizing a 50% decrease in intake, no cats in isolation, 90%+ live release rate, regular ongoing adoption campaigns, lower or free adoption fees, shorter length of stay (LOS) for cats, happier Animal Care staff and more impactful communication strategies that were implemented within their community.

In short, participants will leave with an understanding of C4C as well as the many successes that have evolved through AWASCO’s participation in the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies C4C Project, and talk about the invaluable help and guidance they received from the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Team that has resulted in the centre realizing C4C year round.

Key Learnings:

1. Change can happen even with limited resources
2. C4C initiatives can have far reaching impacts within an organization
3. C4C is within reach of every shelter, big or small


Kathy Innocente
Kathy has 25 years of experience working in the Animal Welfare field and not-for-profit sector with a background in fundraising and leadership/management. She has spent over 20 years working closely with a veterinarian team on shelter medicine issues and is now passionately advocating the Capacity for Care model that has been successfully implanted within AWASCO.

Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten, DVM
Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten - Dr. Karsten is the Outreach Veterinarian with UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Her main areas of interest include infectious disease control, population management, intake diversion programs and community medicine. She has participated in numerous game-changing shelter consultations at rural and urban, national and international animal care facilities, where she has assertively identified far-reaching solutions in the face of severely limited shelter resources.