There has always been a debate as to whether the cost of the vaccination of animals on intake is a worthwhile expense. Some of the issues to consider:
Over-vaccinating owned strays. Pet owners who frequently allow their pets to run loose may experience their pets being over-vaccinated if shelter personnel do not recognize the pet at intake since few animals entering an animal shelter carry owner information.
Vaccinations weaken the immune system. As the body is adjusting to the addition of a foreign substance, the animal might be more likely to become sick in a facility that may already have diseases. The stress of the vaccination is added to the stress of the animal entering the shelter.
Vaccinations take 4 to 6 days to begin offering any immunal support. So, during the short time that an animal sits in a cage, the vaccine that you provided is not protecting it. The vaccine becomes more effective several weeks after administering the vaccine.
So, with all of the negatives that go with intake vaccinations, why do we do it? In spite of it all, vaccinations at intake continue to be seen as a “best practice.” The negative reaction to the vaccination is minor and the positive results can be major.
Smart animal shelter staff try to minimize the impact of the vaccination by keeping the stress level down of their animals. It helps to dim the lights and dampen the sound in the areas where the animals are kept. Keeping “feral boxes” in cages for cats gives them a place where they can hide and feel safer.
Update your local laws to allow shelter personnel to microchip pets that are impounded multiple times without wearing identification. If the animals are scanned prior to vaccination, it will reduce the possibility of over-vaccinating them and reduce the time they are in the shelter waiting for an owner to discover that they are missing.