I've been working on distribution of appropriate toys at my shelter. It was confirmed for me yesterday that one reason some kennel staff are not following instructions on kennel signs (No Blankets, No Soft Toys, even No Food signs for animals with upcoming surgeries) is that they can't read. Setting aside for the moment what could be done to hep those folks learn to read - I'm a retired teacher, so of course I'm interested in that - the immediate problem is how to create signs that can be universally understood.
I'm in the process of making signs that use icons - for example, on the drawer with tough chew toys I'm using a black Kong as the icon, with a matching icon to place on the kennel door. I'm working with a couple of staff members who can read and are sympathetic to the problem. (I will see if I can get feedback from as many as possible regardless of their literacy level, which would help me include the folks who cannot read without having to identify them or try to engage in a discussion that might be very unwelcome.)
Toys are one thing, the No Food and No Blanket signs are a little more daunting. It occurred to me that perhaps shelters with staff whose home language isn't English may already have a system of signage that facilitates communication and could provide some samples. I'll be very grateful!
So it's a little silly, but for dogs that shred we have a picture of...Shredder! Yes Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It has the verbiage not to leave soft toys or bedding, but it's cute and funny. I understand this can be hit or miss if they know who Shredder is.
As far as no food, I'd say a simple clipart of a food bowl with food with the no symbol over it?
I think silly is good! I found a No Food icon that has the words and a drawing of a hamburger and fries. It might be the sort of signage that folks would recognize even if they cannot read the words. I will run the sheet of ideas by the cleaners and they say and see what they say.
Here are the pictures I came up with to try to communicate quickly and accurately what can and cannot be in a kennel. Two are labels for drawers, others are for the kennel cards Tough chews only, no soft toys No platform beds No blankets No rope toys
I will be putting them up this week. Hoping it will increase the number of suitable toys and comfort items for the dogs.
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