Other Useful Shelter/Rescue Information
Animal-Friendly License Plates
Many states support the spaying and neutering of pets through the sale of specialty license plates. For example, in Tennessee, the sale of animal-friendly helps to fund grants to government-run shelters or 501c3 rescues that provide low-cost spay and neuter services. Grant awards are based on the number of animals the organization serves and how many counties are reached. Shelters and organizations that serve distressed counties are prioritized.
Community Cat Sterilization
A large percentage of kittens are born outside. Creating a trap-neuter-release-and manage program will not only lower the volume of feral cats entering the system, but will prevent far too many kittens dying while living outside or being brought in too sick to help.
Comprehensive Adoption Program
Saving lives requires a multi-prong approach. And yes, a robust rescue program is part of the solution, but reaching out to your community for adoptions is now sometimes overlooked. Check your adoption applications to see where you may be being unnecessarily restrictive. This also includes having the shelter be open on Saturdays so that people who work can also come and visit and possibly adopt.
Create a Pet Adoption Awareness Campaign
There are so many myths out there about how adopting shelter pets means taking on someone else’s problems. The best way to kill this untruth is to highlight happy-ever-after adoption stories. For example, the Animal Harbor shelter invites adopters to share stories about how rescued pets changed their lives. The best stories will be part of the shelter’s end-of-the-year “Love Saves” Pet Adoption Awareness Campaign.
Educational Opportunities for Staff
Provide opportunities for shelter staff to attend animal welfare conferences. This is a great way to network, learn about best practices at other shelters, and brainstorm with other animal rescue workers. Some shelters run fundraisers to help raise money to cover the cost of attending these conferences.
Encourage Microchipping for Found Pets
According to a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs that are microchipped are 2.5 times more likely to find their way home and cats who are microchipped are 20 times more likely to find their way home. When reuniting pets with owners the Michelson Found Animals Foundation offers the following tips for shelters seeking to encourage microchipping of pets.
- Include the microchip cost on the first-day impound fee. This way an additional fee isn’t an option or barrier for owners.
- Consider offering free chipping for all reclaims. Since these animals are generally your most at-risk population (once an animal wanders away, they are at a higher risk of doing it again), offering free microchipping ensures that they can be returned to their owner quickly.
- Encourage your local government to pass a mandatory microchipping law for pets. This is an effective tool to return pets to their homes and reduce euthanasia.
- Return in the field – As a component of microchipping on reclaim, many progressive groups will return an animal while in the field if the pet is chipped, saving the pet from ever entering the shelter. Imagine how much a shelter can save when animals are returned directly to their homes by their ACOs. When they don’t enter the shelter, you can reduce the cost of care because you are not providing medical care, vaccines, food, and housing
- Implant in the field – One creative city organization, San Antonio Animal Care, has trained its officers to implant chips in the field.
Explain the 3-3-3 Rule to adopters
To prevent failed adoptions educate adopters about the 3-3-3 Rule so they know what to expect when they welcome a new dog into their home. Every dog is unique and will adjust differently to new life situations but in general, adopters can expect:
- For the first three days a rescue dog will need time to decompress
- In the first three weeks the new arrival will begin to learn his or her new routine
- After three months in a new home an adopted pet will start to feel comfortable
It’s important that adopters understand this is a general rule. Every dog needs to be allowed to get comfortable at his or her own pace.
Foster care is especially helpful with little ones who may need to be bottle fed or for animals with health issues. Fostering is also very helpful in preventing a litter of babies from ever entering the actual building. They still get vaccinated, dewormed, and are promoted for adoption while in their foster homes.
Get Creative When Promoting Spaying and Neutering
Posting clever attention-grabbing graphics with a link to local low-cost spay/neuter clinics can be an effective way to help fight pet overpopulation. For example many shelters and rescues take advantage of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by posting “Don’t Be a Mother” and “Don’t Be a Father” graphics on social media.
Hard Working, Compassionate Shelter Director
Number one most important point is to have a Shelter Director agree that there is to be no more killing of healthy/treatable adoptable dogs and cats.
Medical and Behavior Prevention and Rehab
Age-appropriate vaccinations on intake and up-to-date cleaning processes. Many behavior issues can be prevented with strong enrichment programs that use all of their senses. For example:
- Group walks
- Play groups
- Food enrichment, even something as easy as work for food puzzles
- Pick an appropriate scent to use in their kennels and then switch it up
- Soothing music
High Volume/Low-Cost Sterilization
This win-win is so obvious, not sure what else needs to be said.
When an owner surrender calls the shelter, the first question should be, “What can we do to help you keep your pet at home?” Helping the community member who has a life problem keep their pet is a successful way to keep pets in their homes. Have a list of resources available when talking with the family and discuss the best options to help them keep their pet at home.
Petco Love Helping Reunite Missing Pets With Their Families
According to the American Humane Society, an estimated 10 million pets go missing each year in the US. With a central location to report them lost and found, many of these pets may never be reunited with their families. Petco Love Lost maintains a national database of more than 170,000 dogs and cats, then creates and shares digital lost pet alerts on Nextdoor, Facebook, and via email to help reunite pets with their families. Petco Love Lost uses facial recognition technology to reunite lost dogs and cats with their rightful owners. It only takes a few minutes to register a pet and upload a recent photo onto the site. Whether it’s a new adopter proactively creating a pet profile, an individual who has recently lost a pet, or a shelter or good Samaritan looking to reunite a found pet with his/her owner, Petco Love Lost is a wonderful resource.
Practical Suggestions to Help Implement the No-Kill Philosophy
We have a WALDO volunteer who is an experienced shelter worker who took a high kill shelter in a poor area to a no-kill shelter in a relatively short period. She is available to consult with any shelter/rescue who would like her help. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Not only help them get home after they get to the shelter, but also work with animal control to see if they can get them home before they actually get to the shelter. Use the return to owner time as a way to discuss any help the family may need. And it is a perfect time to offer low or no cost spay/neuter and microchipping.
Promote the Many Ways To Help Animals
There are many people who cannot adopt a pet but would love to help shelters and rescues in other ways. Shelters and rescues can provide a list of the many ways people can help animals and post it on social media. This is also a great way to recruit new volunteers.
Public Relations/Community Involvement
It really is all about the PR and more PR. Your community needs to not only know your needs (such as supplies, etc.) but share with them your successes as well. Use social media, websites, pet store promotions to their fullest. Rabies clinics and microchip clinics are two easy ways to let your community know you are working with them, not against them. Absolutely no people/community/owner bashing!
A robust rescue program for both cats and dogs is an important key to keep animals moving out of the shelter. Build good relationships with trusted partners to have assortment of rescue types so that you know who to reach out when in need.
Animal rescue work is stressful. Shelter staff members need to support and encourage one another as they work to save lives. Taking time out for staff hikes with shelter dogs is a great team-building exercise. Group hikes are also a great way to celebrate staff anniversaries and birthdays while giving the dogs a break from the shelter.
Working Rescue Dogs
Some shelter dogs have the perfect temperament to make working dogs. For example, the Good Luck Cellars, VA grape vine patrol squad is made up of 12 rescue hound dogs. The dogs have nice dog houses, unlimited food/water, and the freedom to run and play. In exchange, they keep the deer, possums, turkeys, and raccoons from eating the vines and grapes. It’s a great life, really, and during a recent visit, WWLDO team members noted that the hounds were happily lounging in the sun or patrolling the vines. All the dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated regularly, and kept on heartworm and flea/tick preventatives.