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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2010
    Posts
    112

    Default Animal Shelter Opinions

    Good Afternoon,

    I have interviewed for a position as an animal shelter director and am trying to do some "market research" to see what things are important to you in donating, volunteering, or adopting from a local shelter.

    Our Shelter had a 80 plus percent euthanasia rate under the previous director who has since resigned.

    The shelter is working toward becoming a no-kill shelter for adoptable animals. It is the County and City shelter so has a large number of strays and is open intake.

    What is most important to you in deciding if you will donate money to a local rescue or shelter? What would make you decide not to donate.

    How can a shelter encourage you to volunteer either for consistent "work" or for a one time project such as a fund raiser.

    What makes you most likely to adopt from a shelter vs a closed intake rescue or a all breed rescue? What do you think is important in customer service when dealing with a shelter.

    I would appreciate any answers or thoughts you may have...

    Thanks!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2003
    Location
    N. Augusta, SC (but forever a BUCKEYE!)
    Posts
    1,809

    Default

    I am a volunteer at our local no-kill animal shelter and am also a adoption counselor. Our facility has been in the area for 11 years, rents the old jail from the city for $1.00 in rent each year, and as a non-profit, we are solely responsible for all fundraising as we are not eligible for any monies from the county or state because of our non-profit status. Our facility takes about $300,000 per year to operate. We have one volunteer who applies for a LOT of grants. As a former technical writer, I'm planning to help her write more this year as we ran at a deficit last year (that we are now trying to make up).

    Our residents come to us in a variety of ways. Many are strays, litters of puppies are left in boxes by the front gate, we've had dogs thrown over the fence into the dog runs, tied to the gate, others are surrendered by their owners, and some are pulled from other kill shelters in the area by good Samaritans who bring them to us for a 2nd chance.

    Our adoptions are higher than most local shelters...$150, $175 for small breeds. We are also very selective with regards to who takes home a dog.

    Anyhow...here are my thoughts on some of your questions below.


    "I have interviewed for a position as an animal shelter director and am trying to do some "market research" to see what things are important to you in donating, volunteering, or adopting from a local shelter.

    Our Shelter had a 80 plus percent euthanasia rate under the previous director who has since resigned.

    The shelter is working toward becoming a no-kill shelter for adoptable animals. It is the County and City shelter so has a large number of strays and is open intake.

    What is most important to you in deciding if you will donate money to a local rescue or shelter? What would make you decide not to donate."

    The biggest reason why I originally began donating yearly to the shelter, and the reason why I now volunteer there is because it is no-kill. I know that the money I donate is going to provide food, shelter and medical care to every resident in the facility regardless of their age or adoptability factor.



    "How can a shelter encourage you to volunteer either for consistent "work" or for a one time project such as a fund raiser. "

    As one who volunteers both time and money, the biggest reason I do so is because I am compassionate of animals. However, there are many who volunteer in our shelter (cleaning dog runs, scrubbing kennels, washing dog/cat food bows, etc.) because they are required to (i.e. sentencing from a judge, community service requirements, military post requirements, etc.). Being the only no-kill shelter in the area also is a benefit. Many people want to volunteer time and money knowing that it won't go to euthanizing the animals. A bit harsh, perhaps, but true.

    One of our biggest fundraisers is an annual dogs in the park walk. Our shelter is near a lake and city park. We allow donors to donate their money for the opportunity to walk one of our shelter dogs in the event, take pictures, sell t-shirts, and get local businesses to donate money for the event. Throughout the year, though, we also have rummage sales, a silent auction, we have a local band that does 4 shows each year in honor of the shelter, with all proceeds going to help the dogs and cats. We also have a handful of 'big' donors who donate $5000-10,000 each to the success of our shelter. I'm also realizing that at this point, I've gotten completely off topic from your question!



    "What makes you most likely to adopt from a shelter vs a closed intake rescue or a all breed rescue? What do you think is important in customer service when dealing with a shelter."

    The main reason why we chose to adopt our first dog from the facility where I now volunteer is that I knew there were dogs there who had been waiting for their forever home for years. Meeting the Board members (all volunteers) and the other volunteers at the facility was my 2nd reason. These people truly do everything in their power to do what is right for these animals, and that meant a lot to me. They weren't doing it because it was their job, they were trying to find homes for dogs and cats because it was their passion (and compassion).

    "I would appreciate any answers or thoughts you may have...

    Thanks!"
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2003
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    5,571

    Default

    A friend of mine was the director of a shelter for a number of years and did a great job -- making it a "no kill" shelter under her direction. She is very good with fund raising and promoting a cause and organizing. If you will PM me, I will be glad to put you in touch with her should you wish to ask her any questions.
    PennyG



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2006
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    1,095

    Default

    I volunteered at the Peoria Animal Welfare Shelter (PAWS) for many years before I moved.

    It is a pretty progressive shelter. They spayed/neutered young when it was first starting to happen. They do low cost spay/neuter. They do lots and lots of adoption stops in the community.

    The shelter is newer, bright, and airy. It is a nice shelter. It is a City/County shelter that takes in EVERYTHING that is brought or picked up.

    The Peoria Humane Society is in the SAME building. The two organizations totally support each other. I honestly thought that was the norm......

    The term NO KILL annoys me to some extent.

    Where I live now, the Humane Society & County Animal Control do NOT get along at all. It is sad.

    The Humane Society claims to be a NO KILL. I did the classes to be a volunteer when I first moved here. It really turned me off when they would constantly talk bad about Animal Control to prospective adopters. If someone came in to the Humane Society, but did not find anything for them, they would downplay Animal Control as a place to go to look for a pet.

    The Animal Control is run by the Health Dept. They have no budget for anything extra. It is a decent shelter, not real new, but very clean and has many windows. Their problem is they are way out in the Country, not a great location.

    Because of insurance, or so they claim, the Health Dept does not allow any volunteers for Animal Control.

    The Humane Society will only take in easy to adopt pets, but honestly, they are full a lot. That is my HUGE problem w/the whole NO KILL issue!

    No one can deny the FACT that there are so many more animals than there are homes. Putting animals down is a fact in order to deal w/the numbers. For old, aggressive, and sick animals, it is a humane way to deal w/them. It is the adoptable animals that require the effort to find them homes.

    I have seen many NO KILL shelters that warehouse somewhat unadoptable animals. Some are old or have health issues. Those animals are taking space from the younger and more adoptable animals. I do not think the issue should be that NO animals are put down, but that the more adoptable ones have the best chance to get a home. Of course, the main job of a shelter is to provide shelter, so EVERY animal brought to it should be taken, so there will be some turnover. It is just not practical to claim or lead people to believe any differently.

    If you claim to be a shelter, then you MUST accept any animal that needs shelter! NO KILL's dont, and that is wrong! They keep the individual animals for much longer, which of course, ties up lots of space.

    If someone brings in a dog to get RID off, and are turned away, do you think that they will KEEP looking for a safe place, or gets frustrated and maybe dump it??

    The general public doesnt really understand the issues you will have when you work in a shelter. Just be aware that being a NO KILL may be a good buzzword, but you will have to make lots of concessions in order to do that.

    A shelter will ALWAYS get in animals that will not be adopted. The only way not to do that, is to be VERY selective in what animals you accept, but what about the ones you turn away?? I dont call those places shelters, cuz they are not protecting the animals.

    Volunteering was very rewarding. I miss it alot, but there is just not a good fit for me where I live now. I just wish it was more common that the different animal charities worked TOGETHER, instead of the infighting.

    I wish you a lot of luck! I think NO KILL shelters have really changed people's perception of what being a shelter really means. There is a lot of reality that a lot of people do not want to acknowledge. Just dont paint yourself in a corner by making claims w/out really thinking about the results of those actions.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2008
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    2,718

    Default

    I have a similar issue with "no kill" as a phrase - while I certainly want as many adoptable animals as possible to find homes, I think it's unrealistic to have a plan that operates on the assumption that every animal that comes in IS adoptable. That's just not the case - some might have health issues, some might have behavior issues, and honestly I think those sorts of animals, if they can't be reasonably rehabilitated, are better off being humanely put to sleep rather than being warehoused in a shelter situation until they die naturally - most shelter animals (dogs, cats) are social to some degree by nature - a shelter is a horribly stressful and unrewarding environment in that regard, no matter how many volunteers you have come in to walk or pet them. It's just not the same as a home. Don't make them suffer mentally because you're not willing to be the bad guy and say "look, we can't do better than a shelter kennel, and there's no long term quality of life in that."

    That said - one of the local shelters seems to be having great results with fostering out some animals who come in who aren't IMMEDIATELY adoptable, but can be rehabilitated. This is mostly animals with medical issues who need more care than the shelter can provide, but occasionally it's behavior issues too, like those 1.5 year old large breed dogs who come in with no manners because some idiot didn't realize the cute puppy was going to GROW UP. Few weeks in a foster home experienced with larger dogs and dog training (I think the shelter provides classes) and while not obedience champions, they're suddenly a lot less intimidating to prospective adopters.

    So as a volunteer or someone going to make a donation, I would want good policies addressing those issues. I won't volunteer or donate if I think the entire way of managing things is unrealistic and ultimately harmful to the animals.

    (Likewise no-kill shelters that managed to be that way by cherry picking only the adoptable animals and leaving the others to be dealt with by someone else - I think that's just a hypocritical approach. If you're a breed rescue, that's one thing - often people involved with breed rescue have a specific interest in that breed, like being breeders, and that's fine, I'm fine with someone saying "I have limited time and funds, so I'm only going to take in X dogs, but I know all about them and will be able to rehabilitate and rehome them well." It's not the same thing to me as someone claiming to be "no kill" by basically pretending that those other places don't exist, or are Evil. Animal overpopulation is a problem, you can't just pretend it doesn't exist.)

    The other thing that really makes a difference to me, as a volunteer or donor (assuming that there aren't any care or handling red flags in the way the place is run - everything is kept reasonably clean and cared for, etc.) is the adoption policy. If it is easier to get into the Secret Service Presidential detail than it is to adopt an animal from you? I am not going to support your shelter because I think that's just absurd.

    Yes, there are questions that need to be asked and issues that need to be dealt with, but REALISTICALLY. If you're in a city - a lot of potential adopters might live in apartments or houses with small yards, so having a fenced in yard as a requirement is going to leave you with a lot of unadopted dogs for a silly reason - a dog can be walked or taken to a dog park for exercise if a yard isn't available, it's not rocket science.

    Another thing I think is a good idea (and would encourage me to volunteer or donate) is programs aimed at educating pet owners - particularly people who've adopted, but if you offer training classes and that sort of thing, heck, let anyone come as long as they pay a fee, it's fund raising. (Discounted fee for people bringing an animal they adopted, obviously.) Another shelter in our area does this, and in addition to the standard basic obedience classes, they've done presentations on things like competitive obedience and flyball, they've had "pet massage" classes - no pets invited to that one, you practiced on stuffed toys provided by the instructor so you could focus on what you were being taught, and they also occasionally just have social events - bring your other-animals-friendly pet and socialize with other pet owners. (They do tend to do one or two all-pets big events a year, and then several smaller ones that are more limited - Toy Dogs Tea, for example, or a Picnic in the Park for dogs 50lb and up.)



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2003
    Location
    N. Augusta, SC (but forever a BUCKEYE!)
    Posts
    1,809

    Default

    "The other thing that really makes a difference to me, as a volunteer or donor (assuming that there aren't any care or handling red flags in the way the place is run - everything is kept reasonably clean and cared for, etc.) is the adoption policy. If it is easier to get into the Secret Service Presidential detail than it is to adopt an animal from you? I am not going to support your shelter because I think that's just absurd."


    I'm not sure where the shelter you may be running is located, but here in the South, we have to be stringent of our adoption policy simply because dog fighting is a bit of a big deal in our area. As an adoption counselor, I ask a lot of questions, and while it may seem unfair at times, if I get a weird vibe, I've got a few options such as having our animal behaviorist come it to assist in the pending adoption, requiring a home visit, or simply stopping the adoption at that point and not continuing. Other foster groups and shelters in the area let the dog go just with a signature and a check. Many of these pets have been used as bait dogs.

    While we would like for our dogs to go to a home where there's a fenced yard and they'll be part of a 'family' and receive social interaction daily with their humans, there are always exceptions to the rule. I'm one of those exceptions. When my husband and I adopted our first, we had no fenced yard (still don't), yet we left that day with a dog.

    We have dogs who go to live in apartments, but it has to be the right dog. If we feel the dog's temperament wouldn't be a good fit in an apartment, we try to find a better fit for the dog. If they take the dog home and it starts to destroy the apartment, the dog is going to be returned. That clearly isn't our goal...we want forever homes, but there is a clause in our adoption policy that says the adoptive family will return the dog to us in the event that they cannot care for it any longer.
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