In 2014, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) in Colorado Springs, Colorado became the first and only animal shelter in the state to have an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital—but veterinary services manager, Julie Crosby, CVT, doesn’t want it to stay that way.

“Animal shelters have a unique role in serving as a resource to the community,” Crosby says.

For HSPPR, that role includes providing a standard of excellence, and she hopes to see other shelters follow suit.

At AAHA, we like to say our accredited hospitals are “Champions for Excellent Care,” and we urge them to publicize their accreditation using both the tools we’ve developed ( and creative ideas of their own.

Learn how HSPPR’s veterinary services team is working to shift the perception of shelter medicine by promoting AAHA accreditation.

Trends: Why was it important to you to become accredited? How has the shelter benefitted from AAHA accreditation?

Julie Crosby: We were excited to take on the challenge of becoming accredited, and the process was worth it! I wanted our community and supporters to know Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region patients are receiving gold standard care. Shelter medicine is a growing field, so this was a great opportunity to bring awareness to what we are doing and show other shelters it can be done. By going through the accreditation process, we improved in many ways. We reviewed and updated all of our current policies and procedures to ensure we are providing the best care possible. Our veterinary services team works every day to maintain this prestigious accreditation, as it is a reflection of their efforts and the compassion they have for the animals in our care.

Trends: Would you recommend AAHA accreditation to other animal shelters?

JC: I would definitely recommend AAHA accreditation to other shelters and hope to see more added to the list. Regardless of the services they may offer, I think it is very important for shelters to make this investment in their team and facility. The results benefit all aspects of our organization, from staff morale to public perception to donations.

Trends: How do you let the community know about your accreditation? What has been the response?

JC: People are always surprised and excited to hear about our accreditation. Those already familiar with AAHA are impressed that a shelter and high volume spay/neuter facility could accomplish this. For supporters and clients who are not familiar with AAHA, it is a great opportunity to talk about our services and how much we value every animal in our care. Having this conversation often puts worried owners at ease.

Trends: What creative or fun ideas have you come up with to promote your accreditation, both online and within the community? Which AAHA tools or resources have you found to be the most helpful in promoting your accreditation?

JC: We have a large following on our Facebook page and often post about our AAHA accreditation in conjunction with great medical stories or information about our services. We also use the AAHA accreditation information brochure to explain what accreditation means. It is a great tool to have on hand at events, donor receptions, and most importantly, at the front desk of our clinic. We recently ordered it in Spanish as well. And our veterinary team is proud to wear their AAHA pins and display window clings and other signage throughout our clinic.

Trends: What one new thing do you plan on doing in your practice in the next year to improve how you promote your accreditation?

JC: This year, we are planning to incorporate more of the AAHA pet health brochures when we are talking with our clients. These brochures are great for providing education on the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as vaccinations and other common wellness topics. 

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