Gone are the days of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, when dog catchers rounded up nameless nuisance strays and took them to dog pounds to sit in cages. Animal shelters are modernizing and advancing. They are staffed by gentle, caring and committed animal lovers. They have welfare conferences, they have veterinary shelter medicine specializations, they have enrichment programs—and they are using science to make educated decisions.

Yet, animal shelters are inherently stressful places, where even well-adjusted pets can shut down physically and behaviorally. Environmental stress is often at the root of the many challenges pets face in shelters, particularly in large, open-admission, municipal shelters. In turn, shelter-housed pets get sick easily as a result of exposure to novel germs, a high viral load in the environment, stress-weakened immune systems or a combination of all three.


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