Tabby kitten in a stainless steel kennel

Manuals, Handbooks, & Playbooks

Best Friends recognizes that the world of animal sheltering is a fast-moving, ever-changing environment with new lifesaving programs popping up all the time. Some of the most tried and true programs have proven to be critical in today’s daily operations, yet some agencies struggle with implementing them or even knowing where to start! That’s why we have assembled these operational playbooks as recipe cards to get you started. What you will find here are basic starting points on what you will need to get these programs up and running and some resources to take you to the next level.






Humane Animal Control Manual- In the Humane Animal Control manual, you will find a road map for progressive, community-based animal care and control. Best Friends Animal Society has assembled a collection of descriptions of our country’s most successful lifesaving programs, written by those who helped make them possible. Whether you’re a municipal employee new to this field or a seasoned veteran, we hope that this publication will empower you and your agency to expand the level of service you bring to the people and animals in your community.

Kitten Foster Manual- Best Friends' kitten foster care manual has information on preparing for, bringing home and caring for a foster kitten to prepare him or her for a forever home. This manual was written specifically for use by Best Friends in Utah. Please feel free to tailor content to suit your individual organization's unique requirements.

Length of Stay Manual- The guiding principle in animal sheltering is providing for the welfare of the animals housed within the shelter. In many organizations, balancing animal welfare science and physical space limitations can present significant lifesaving challenges. As proven lifesaving strategies and shelter medicine continue to evolve, so should shelters’ procedures, programs and protocols in pursuit of providing humane care for the animals. When measuring your shelter’s proficiency in these lifesaving areas, it is critical to analyze the average length of stay (LOS) for animals.

Onboarding and Training New Animal Care Staff- This customizable manual can be used to provide an overview of duties and responsibilities for new animal care staff members.

People, Pets, and Policies: Towards Community Supported Animal Sheltering- Together with IMLA (International Municipal Lawyers Association), we have created the following comprehensive guide to provide municipalities with programs and policies that encourage the humane treatment of animals. The chapters included in the manual address topics such as pet inclusive public housing, empowering animal field officers, integrating animal services and municipal departments, managing feral cat populations, foster care, adoption services, volunteering at animal shelters, public and private partnerships, and breed-neutral policies and laws.



Community Cat Programs Handbook- Community cat programs (CCPs) are an integral part of operations for animal shelters across the U.S. This humane, fiscally responsible and effective programming provides an immediate, lasting response for cats in and out of shelters, frees up valuable resources and increases adoption of cats not eligible for return. The revised version of the Community Cat Programs Handbook is fully updated with the latest research and effective practices to start or enhance a CCP.


Emergency Preparedness Toolkit- The Best Friends Emergency Preparedness Toolkit is geared towards shelter agencies, rescues, boarding facilities, or veterinary clinics that have been impacted by a disaster or are concerned about the impacts of a disaster, as well as shelters that are contracted by their municipality to provide support during an emergency response.

Operational Playbooks  


Alternative Outcomes

Amazon Wish List 

Animal Flow

Animal Transport Volunteer Playbook

At-Risk Animals

Canine Care and Enrichment

Canine Distemper

Community Cat Programs

Culture Initiatives

Daily Checklist and Time Stamps for Shelters

Daily Rounds: Planning a Pathway

Deciding Whether to Launch a 501(c)(3) Support Group

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Business Continuity in a Digital Program

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Choosing Images for Digital Fundraising

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Choosing Technology to Support Animal Welfare Nonprofits and Nonprofit Allies of Municipal Shelters

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Creating a Compelling Website Giving Experience 

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Email Marketing Basics

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Ensuring Email Deliverability 

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Facebook Fundraising

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: How to Make Meaningful Social Content on Any Channel

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Instagram

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Managing Negativity in Social Media

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Overview 

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Planning a Multi-channel Campaign

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Revamping Your Website

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Top Six Metrics That Matter in Digital Fundraising

Digital Fundraising Playbook Series: Writing an Effective Email Appeal

Disease Control — The Role of Sanitation

Expanding Veterinary Capacity in Shelters

Feline Housing and Enrichment

Field Return-to-Owner

Field-Training Programs

Forming a 501(c)(3) Support Group

Forming and Working with a 501(c)(3) Board

Foster Programs

Fundraising for Municipal Shelters

Heartworm Disease Management

Infectious Disease Outbreak Response

Intake Diversion in the Field

Lifesaving Dispatch

Lifesaving Field Services

Managed Intake or Admissions

Medical Care for Kittens

Neonatal Kitten Care

Proven Lifesaving Strategies for Big Dogs

Reducing Infectious Disease in Transport Programs


Ringworm Management

Staff Development and Training

Staff Recruitment and Retention 

Training New Animal Care Staff

Volunteer Program Overview

We also have a growing collection of free, on-line courses to help get programs started or take them to the next level. 

Explore our courses