New Study Adds to Evidence that Capacity for Care Improves Shelter Ops

Posted: January 30th, 2020 Author: KSMP

This month Samantha Hobson published “Examining potential impacts of Capacity for Care (C4C) as a strategy to manage shelter cat populations” as a Master’s Thesis at the University of Guelph, Ontario. 

The concept of Capacity for Care (C4C) forms the core of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s shelter management philosophy. When a shelter operates within its C4C, all animals needing service receive care that preserves their health and safety —and just as importantly, that of staff. Factors influencing C4C include admissions flow, housing type and number, staffing, outcomes and Length of Stay (LOS). 

While it has been borne out in practice before and since the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters were published in 2010, C4C’s scientific legitimacy received strong validation from the 2017 publication of “An observational study of the relationship between Capacity for Care as an animal shelter management model and cat health, adoption and death in three animal shelters.” 

The study, authored by KSMP shelter veterinarians Cynthia Karsten, Kate Hurley, and Denae Wagner along with veterinarian statistician Philip Kass, compared before and after implementation of C4C at three Canadian animal shelters, with the support of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. The results were clear: operating within C4C created a virtuous cycle that worked better for animals, shelter staff and the public. 

It seems fitting that the new study confirming the results of Karsten et al should come from Canada, where the original study was conducted and where the moniker “C4C” was first codified as the name of the management model. 

Hobson recruited a total of 7 participants from 5 Canadian shelters for her thesis and we were thrilled to read her results: 

All participants either agreed or strongly agreed that implementing C4C was a positive change for their respective shelters, for shelter staff and for the cats in their care. Six participants agreed or strongly agreed that C4C resulted in positive change for the community, and one participant indicated that they felt neutral towards C4C being a positive change for the community. 

Hobson’s thesis is available online for free here:

An earlier C4C study, “Risk factors affecting length of stay of cats in an animal shelter: A case study at the Guelph Humane Society, 2011–2016” (Janke et al) is available here:,C4C%20program%20at%20the%20GHS.

C4C Resources 

Read more about Capacity for Care in our Resource Library

C4C icon