Updated January 16, 2019
One of the most important things that you can do for each of your residents may not be the most entertaining or glamorous job, but consistent record keeping kept in a safe, well-organized location is critical for resident health and safety, as well as the safety and success of your sanctuary.
When you first bring a resident to your sanctuary, ensure that you keep good records of the intake process and everything you first learn about the resident.
First, take a few photographs of your resident, especially ones of their face and any health challenges that they might be dealing with. This visual information is useful for a veterinarian in diagnosing current or future conditions, in cases where you need to prove guardianship of the animal, and in the case of abuse by humans, proof of poor treatment in the past. Keeping photo documentation of a new resident’s health can also be a powerful testament to their healing and growth at your sanctuary for visitors.
As soon as you can, document each resident’s:
- Arrival date and origin
- Current diet and record of any diet changes, as well as preferred food
- Identifying marks (if any)
- Age or age estimate
- Spay/Neuter history
- Veterinary record and health certificates
- State-issued ear tag identification number (if applicable)
- Vaccinations, on intake and ongoing (especially the rabies vaccination)
- Microchip information (if they have one)
- A history of where they came from and the conditions in which they were kept
- Acquisition documents and Interstate travel certificate (if they have one)
- Police reports if they have any
- If applicable or appropriate, positive reinforcement training records showing completed objectives and those still in development
If you have a veterinarian evaluate your new resident, keep a record of their findings as well as their general remarks and a body condition score at intake. If the veterinarian has any special care or medicinal suggestions, make special note of these and keep them prominently in your animal’s records.
Keep detailed track of your new resident’s quarantine period, health observations and treatments if necessary, and how their introduction to other residents goes. This will help you evaluate and improve your intake procedures in case anything goes awry unexpectedly. Perhaps you’ll find that one of your residents needs a little more time to adjust to newcomers, which can be helpful care information in the future.
To learn much more about the Intake examination and documentation process, check out our resource on the subject matter here!
Health Checkup Records
For each species of resident that you care for, you should have a printable template that you can use for every routine health checkup that you perform. You can use it both as an easy checkup guide for each animal and a place to document your findings clearly. Before you perform a check up, you can compare past records to track health challenges and monitor how well a recovery or treatment is going. This information can be used to adjust and optimize treatments. Keeping track of any disease or parasitic outbreaks can help keep the rest of your residents healthy and safe.
For more information on why health documentation is crucial to residents, check out our resource here!
Whenever you have your resident checked up by a veterinarian, keep all documentation they provide as well. This can help you keep track of each resident’s ongoing needs and also be crucial in case you need to use a different veterinarian in the future or in an emergency.
If your resident is particularly reactive to certain humans or other residents, it is wise to keep this information well-documented and towards the beginning or their records. This can help prevent problematic interactions down the road if a new volunteer or caregiver isn’t aware of the resident’s personality. It can also help you track any changes in their behavior that could point to developing health challenges.
Whenever a resident enters quarantine, whether they’re incoming or an existing resident, it’s good to keep a quarantine log. This information should include what steps you’re taking to quarantine the resident, any treatment that they’re going through, as well as updates on their health throughout the quarantine process. This can help you ensure that you’re giving the resident the exact care required and review in the future to refine your quarantine process to be as successful and efficient as possible.
End of Care Records
If being adopted, take photographs before they leave your care and document their general health as well as the contact information of the adopting organization or persons. You can offer the resident’s new home a copy of the documentation you’ve kept for the resident, but it’s important that you keep a copy for yourself as well to protect your organization and your resident in case the adoption is against their interest. If the adopting organization or persons has to return the resident to you, record their reason.
If an animal has passed away, take detailed notes of how the resident died, including a necropsy report if conducted by a professional. Also make note of how you disposed of the resident’s remains. Although not the most happy information, keeping record of your animal’s death may help protect the rest of your residents (in the case of disease outbreak) as well as your sanctuary (in case the government requires information about your residents). Keep the full record of your animal’s life and times safely archived in case necessary for future reference.