Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team
What happens in Vegas may usually stay there, but Maddie's Fund is hoping just the opposite is true when it comes to our recent day-long seminar on adoption guarantee sheltering. Held April 6th in Las Vegas at The HSUS Animal Care Expo, it drew more than 200 attendees interested in saving the lives of more of their communities' animals.
Maddie's Fund® president Rich Avanzino opened the seminar with the announcement that we, along with The HSUS and the Ad Council, would be sponsoring The Shelter Pet Project, a three-year national ad campaign set to launch this summer. Its mission: Nothing less than getting every single healthy and treatable pet in America's shelters into a good home.
Then Nevada Humane Society Executive Director Bonney Brown and Susanne Kogut, Director of the Charlottseville-Albermarle SPCA, took the stage. Their message was a simple one. The key to achieving an adoption guarantee in any community is to believe it can be done, be willing to try anything to make it happen, and to never stop working at it. "There's no 'easy button' to get to no-kill," Kogut said. "So how do we get there? The first step is to believe that it's possible, and that's exactly what we're here to help you do."
What followed was a series of presentations outlining the steps communities need to take to make adoption guarantee a reality. After Brown and Kogut's first person descriptions of how their communities did it, Robin Starr of the Richmond SPCA and Petfinder.com founder Betsy Saul gave an overview of the state of customer service in the shelter world, and how to boost adoptions and inspire volunteers and donations with excellent customer service.
Adoption guarantee isn't just for healthy and well-behaved animals; it's for treatable pets, too. "Treat the treatable," Natalie Isaza, DVM, from Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida told the audience. And then she told them how to do that, stressing that protocols for shelter populations are very different than those for owned pets.
Sheila Segurson-D'Arpino, DVM, DACB, Senior Applied Animal Behaviorist at the Animal Rescue League of Boston discussed preventing and treating behavior problems, and busted a lot of myths about pit bull and "pit bull-type" shelter dogs in the process, saying she prefers to call dogs of unknown breed "American Shelter Dogs" instead of making guesses that might stigmatize or even doom them.
Next up were Paula Fasseas, the founder of PAWS Chicago, and John Boone from the SPCA of Northern Nevada. Their topic was finding homes for "hard to place" pets: the old, those with special needs, and the wallflowers alike.
The seminar closed with all six panelists taking audience questions.