Dear Million Cat Challenge,
Can an open admission, public shelter limit intake hours or create waiting lists and still qualify as open admission?
Absolutely! Just as other publically operated offices are open during defined hours and utilize appointments to match their ability to offer timely services, this is a responsible, fiscally sound and service-oriented way to manage an animal shelter. A good example is a public health clinic – only emergencies are admitted on an unscheduled basis. Beyond that, there is no turning away of people in need of service (other than meeting income or insurance qualifications) but appointments are scheduled to match the doctors’ ability to see patients reasonably promptly. It wouldn’t make sense for such a clinic to just line everyone up in the waiting room and have them wait for days or weeks for care.
Likewise, a public shelter can still be available to the same number of animals (or even more) but schedule intake or use waiting lists to match the ability to provide humane conditions and appropriate care and outcomes. This doesn’t mean some animals won’t be euthanized or that fewer animals will be cared for over time, but the conditions in the shelter will be much better for animals and people, staff can be used more strategically, costs will tend to decline, and in turn this can lead to more adoptions, more volunteers and greater support for the shelter.