Dogs enter shelters through many routes. Most are brought in by owners, some enter as strays, and some may enter as neglect or abuse cases brought in by animal control or law enforcement officers. Embarking on this new life with different living conditions can be a very stressful experience for a shelter dog. The resources highlighted in this section will enable shelter staff and organizations to not only manage this stress, but also improve their welfare by addressing their needs. Although each organization will address and satisfy the needs of shelter dogs differently, the basic principles of what every shelter dog needs can be summarized in the Five Freedoms list below:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.