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My wife is thinking of working in a breeder but we have a cat at home. They have lost cats to sickness. They have alcohol gels for hands and shoes but is there information from a reputable organisation about the standards that you should keep? They don't much of clue here in Japan- the owner only started hygiene after the deaths.

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  • +1 good question, the answer should apply to anyone volunteering for rescue as well – Zaralynda Oct 25 '14 at 14:21
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I found recommendations for shelter hygiene that would represent best practices in a breeder. At the least, I would expect that a breeder would have some kind of plan and training for new staff.

Koret Shelter Medicine Program has an informational sheet that talks about sanitation plans. A sanitation plan provides

a comprehensive picture of all the areas and objects in a facility that require periodic sanitation. For each of these, a plan needs to address removal of organic matter (cleaning); application of a chemical product to inactivate pathogens (disinfection) if necessary; and drying of the surface afterwards. When choosing a disinfectant, we must consider the spectrum of effect; constraints against efficacy (such as presence of organic matter); method of delivery; and time to effect. Cleaning and disinfecting agents must be safe, cost effective, and practical given a particular organizations strengths or limitations in staff training or facility design. Finally, we need get everything in writing, make sure staff are trained, and periodically check to make sure the whole process is working properly.

More specifically,

each written protocol needs to include:

How often the area/object is to be cleaned (after each use, daily, weekly, annually, during or after an outbreak?)

What cleaning and disinfection products are to be used and how should they be applied? (Including, in detail, the correct process for dilution and contact time)

Who is responsible for sanitation? How, and how often, will you check to make sure the process is being done correctly?

I would ask the breeder "Do you have a sanitation plan?".

The Association of Shelter Veterinarians writes in their Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters (2010):

Adequate training is required to ensure humane animal care, as well as staff and public safety (ILAR 1996). This includes allocating time and resources for employees and volunteers to complete training prior to undertaking responsibility for tasks. The skills, knowledge and training to accomplish each task must be successfully demonstrated before proficiency is assumed. Continuing education should be provided in order to maintain and improve skills. Documentation of training should be maintained.

There should be some type of training program that covers sanitation (as well as other aspects of the breeder's operation, like record keeping). I would ask the breeder "Do you have a staff training program that discusses sanitation?"

Both of these organizations provide material detailed about how to select cleaning products and considerations when writing procedures that will help you review the sanitation plan and staff training to decide if it reduces the risk enough for you to feel secure about working there.

Since a breeder will have fewer incoming animals of questionable health than a shelter, I suspect that spot cleaning will be used more frequently than in the listed guidelines. The breeder's sanitary plan should detail when spot cleanings are appropriate, and at least that a full disinfection should be performed any time an animal is ill. In addition, all common surfaces should always be disinfected regularly.

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