Animal Placement Guidelines

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Guidelines for Animal Placement

Communication: Putting the animal first

Honest and full communication about expectations and commitments is critical. All parties should acknowledge that the goal is the best possible welfare for each individual animal. Do not feel constrained to agree to the first response received, evaluate all offers before accepting placement or placing an animal. Ask questions!


Use a welfare assessment tool like the five domains when considering placing an animal or accepting an animal for placement.

Suitability: Finding a good match

Placement is not a substitute for euthanasia; many animals are not suitable candidates due to loss of limbs and resulting equilibrium or other problems, stress levels, or behavioral problems. In many cases that rehabilitators see every day, euthanasia would be far more humane than permanent life in captivity. Please review the Code of Ethics.

Both IWRC and IAATE have position statements on non-releasable animals.

Many jurisdictions also have guidelines that must be met. It is the responsibility of the receiving person to know their regulatory agency guidelines.


It is the responsibility of those listing wildlife for placement to make a thorough investigation of anyone expressing interest in a transfer. We strongly urge that both sides of such a transaction be committed to addressing, at a minimum, the following points:

  • that all necessary governmental permits are obtained and current;
  • that facilities are satisfactory for housing;
  • that resources are sufficient for on-going food, housing, and medical treatment, as necessary;
  • that diets fed such animals are of high quality and adequate supply;
  • that experienced volunteer or staff resources are available for training, handling, and captive care of the animals;
  • that the animals are good candidates for a life in captivity.

Obtain References

If you are dealing with someone unknown to you, we suggest checking references, such as the veterinarian of record for the facility, peer rehabilitators, and the state and/or federal wildlife permit officer. Speaking with someone who has actually been to the facility is of great value.

The care standards developed jointly by IWRC and NWRA do not extend to permanent care of wildlife kept for education or captive breeding. Those wishing to place non-releasable wildlife need to be sure that their personal standards are met by any facility in which the animal may be placed.


Additional Resources

Compassionate Euthanasia – Kit Lacy IAATE, Cascades Raptor Center

Selection Process for Non-Releasable Birds – Kit Lacy IAATE, Cascades Raptor Center

The 2020 Five Domains Model – Mellor et al in the journal Animals

Welfare Chapter in Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach, 2nd ed

Coffee & Tea on Assessing Wildlife Rehabilitation Patient Welfare

Animal Welfare and its Assessment in World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Animal Welfare Strategy